Has a team in any of the major US sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) ever purchased another teams draft pick for cash? It is common for teams to trade their draft picks for player but I am wondering if any team has actually purchased a pick by only trading cash.
The NHL specifically forbids this with their CBA and Salary cap system. Teams can not trade "cash" they can only trade players and draft picks. Nhl teams can retain a players salary but only to a maximum of 50% of salary can be retained. I am unfamiliar with other sports or hockey prior to this agreement. NHL CBA
A strategy that is used around the NFL is to trade salary cap dollars for a draft pick. It's not purchasing a draft pick for straight up cash, but most of the time when this tactic used the price of the draft pick runs high due to having to buy draft picks for a large amount of salary cap money.
A good example of this is what almost happened to Tony Romo (before he became CBS number one broadcaster). The Broncos were willing to take on Romo's contract and take the money out of their salary cap. The Cowboys could've received a number of draft picks for this deal, but we all know what happened with Romo. So the Cowboys were trying to leverage other teams with their quarterback, hoping to get another NFL player, or even a high draft pick.
You can checkout the two links below, the first discusses the policy of trading salary cap space, and the second talks about a trading situation that almost occurred in Philadelphia. So this isn't giving straight up cash for a draft pick,
The salaries have to match up for a trade to go through. While draft picks can >be used as a non-value aspect to account for missing salary, it’s tough to >justify the draft picks the Sixers would give up in a trade being worth a cash >disparity of more than $10 million a year.
As for the NBA, this small quote gives a great example of how the NBA's policy. A money for player trade or money for draft pick trade are considered 'cash considerations'. These are very rare because of the NBA's cap rules. There still are teams that sell their draft picks though.
Yes, teams in the NBA are allowed to purchase draft picks with cash.
Per this San Jose Mercury News article:
For the fourth time in the Lacob ownership era, the Warriors purchased a pick, this time spending the maximum-allowed $3.5M to buy the 38th overall pick from Chicago, and use it on a player GM Bob Myers and Lacob both said they believed was a first-round value.
These types of trades are still relatively rare, but allow for teams with aggressive ownership to acquire assets without giving up any additional talent. Typically, only second round draft picks have been sold/traded for cash.