One of the many intriguing aspects of last February’s trade between Philadelphia and Brooklyn was the inclusion of the Sixers’ 2022 first-round pick, with the Nets given the option to instead take Philadelphia’s 2023 first-rounder by an agreed-upon June 1 deadline. Reported speculation had been that the Nets would defer to 2023, and after waiting right up until that June 1 deadline, Brooklyn has, in fact, officially opted to defer and assume the rights to Philadelphia’s 2023 first-round pick.
ESPN Sources: The Brooklyn Nets are deferring acquisition of the Philadelphia 76ers 2022 first-round pick at No. 23 to the 2023 NBA Draft. The option on pushing back pick comes out of the James Harden-Ben Simmons trade. Nets had to inform the league office of decision today.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 1, 2022
The most obvious implication of Brooklyn’s choice is that the Sixers will be on the clock at 23rd overall on June 23. The pick provides the Sixers with another immediate avenue to improve their roster for the 2022-23 season. They could, of course, keep the pick at 23rd overall and hope they find someone able to make an impact as a rookie rotation player. We’ll have plenty of draft coverage for you here at Liberty Ballers in the coming weeks, so you’ll get an idea of which players might be more ready to step in and help from day one.
Daryl Morey might also look to trade the pick for veteran help. However, since the Sixers no longer have a first-round pick in 2023 (with theirs now belonging to Brooklyn), they are not able to trade the 2022 pick until after the conclusion of the draft (due to the Stepien Rule). So the Sixers will be selecting a player, even if that selection is for a non-disclosed trade to be made later. The one exception would be if the Sixers were to acquire an additional 2022 or 2023 first-round pick in the lead-up to this month’s draft (Matisse Thybulle being traded away would seem to be the most realistic way for that scenario to play out). Then, they would be free to trade away the 23rd pick prior to the draft if they wished.
As for other implications, Brooklyn deferring to 2023 means the Sixers are currently unable to trade their 2024, 2026, or 2028 first-round picks (again, due to the Stepien Rule). As a reminder, Philadelphia owes Oklahoma City its 2025 first-round pick (top-6 protected) and Brooklyn its 2027 first-round pick (top-8 protected). The current situation doesn’t leave a lot of flexibility for Morey, a Professor Emeritus at the School of Optionality, so I’d anticipate additional moves in the coming years.
Future considerations aside, the 2022 NBA Draft is now officially spicier for Sixers fans! We’ll try to cover all the angles here as we await what the Sixers will do on June 23.