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Nets defer Philly first rounder to 2023

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Brooklyn Nets Introduce Draft Picks - Press Conference Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets have informed the league and the 76ers that they intend to defer the Sixers’ unprotected first round pick till 2023. The deferral which was widely expected was announced at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, the deadline for the decision.

The pick, the 23rd in the June 23 Draft, was acquired (along with the Sixers protected 2027 pick) in the deadline blockbuster deal that sent James Harden and Paul Millsap to Philly for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond. The Nets were also able to generate an $11.3 million trade exception which they are likely to use this off-season as well. Under terms of the deal, the Nets had the choice of using the pick in either the 2022 or 2023 Draft.

Adrian Wojnarowski wrote this about the move:

Deferring the pick allows the Nets to keep flexibility over an extended period on using that pick in trades — and gives them a roll of the dice that the pick could land higher on the draft board next year based upon the success of the Sixers’ coming season.

Virtually every NBA pundit and draftnik believed the Nets would defer. Jonathan Givony, Woj’s colleague at ESPN, said this Tuesday:

“Most NBA teams [are assuming] that the Nets will punt to 2023 and gamble on the Sixers sending an even better pick next year if the wheels come off in Philadelphia.”

As of Wednesday evening, Brooklyn now holds the Philly first in 2023 as well as their own firsts in 2023, 2025, 2027, 2028 and the 1-through-8 protected Philly pick in 2027. Their picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026 are all owed to Houston from the first Harden trade. The Nets 2023, 2025 and 2027 firsts may also have to be swapped with Philly. The Nets currently have no seconds in the 2022 Draft nor the cash considerations to acquire one.

Bobby Marks laid more specifics in a series of tweets...

By deferring, Brooklyn will save around $2.1 million in salary alone this season.

The Nets could always find a way on Draft Night to get back in. Sean Marks is historically most active most active around the Draft. The Harden-for-Simmons deal at the deadline was a rare occurrence.

As Alex Schiffer wrote Thursday on Marks Draft Night record...

He dealt Landry Shamet shortly before the start of the 2021 draft for Jevon Carter and the 29th pick. (Brooklyn drafted Day’Ron Sharpe.) On the eve of the 2020 draft, he acquired Bruce Brown and Shamet in a three-team trade that sent (Saddiq) Bey to Detroit. In 2019, he sent (Nickeil) Alexander-Walker and Allen Crabbe to Atlanta for Taurean Prince, creating the second max contract slot that allowed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to both come to Brooklyn.

Even without a pick, the Nets have a number of young players who could join Brooklyn from Long Island, as Alec Sturm wrote last week. Last year, when the Nets had five picks, they signed three to the roster, either to standard deals or two-ways. They also signed an undrafted player in David Duke Jr. He started seven games. The other two picks — Marcus Zegarowski and RaiQuan Gray — were signed directly to G League contracts. The Nets retain their draft rights.

The 2023 Draft is indeed expected to be better than the 2022 Draft. Just yesterday, Terquavian “Baby T” Smith, a 6’4 NC State guard who the Nets had worked out, decided to stay another year in Raleigh. He had been projected at around No. 23. Also the 76ers health issues — Joel Embiid’s history of injury and Harden’s hamstring — may have been a factor in the decision. If they are not healthy, the Sixers could drop in the standings and rise in the Draft.

If they had kept the pick, it seemed likely that Nets will go for a shooter. The Nets no longer reveal who they work out, but from various reports, we were able to find 27 prospects who’ve showed their wares in HSS Training Center workouts. Of that total, the overwhelming majority were shooting guards or small forwards. Many had a reputation for being good defenders as well.

“We’re going through as if we’re trying to find somebody for this roster, for this team that can help us move forward with,” Marks said in May. “So obviously if we find a group that we think is going to be there, then we keep the pick. So that’s what we’re planning on right now.

“This is a fun time of year for the front office and to have these discussions with the coaches when they’re out there and they’re evaluating, they’re scouting these young men to see who could potentially don a Nets uniform next year.”