The short answer is flexibility. The longer answer is a bit more complicated, but the Nets are deferring a first-round pick acquired from the 76ers in the James Harden trade to 2023.
Instead of making the No. 23 pick in the 2022 NBA draft, the Nets will have Philadelphia’s first-rounder in 2023.
What does this mean in the short term for the Nets? For one, they don’t have a pick in this year’s draft. This isn’t that wild.
They have a few young players they are still working to develop in Cam Thomas, Day’Ron Sharpe, David Duke Jr., and Kessler Edwards. Would they be able to draft someone better than any of those guys at 23? Debatable.
Additionally, this means Brooklyn’s 2023 NBA draft fate hangs in the balance with the Sixers. This could go either way, but one injury or a falling out between Joel Embiid and James Harden could put Philly in a bad spot next season.
Obviously, this could go in the other direction with the Nets moving down in the draft, but they are willing to take a chance in exchange for a little more flexibility.
Moving out of the first round means the Nets won’t have to pay guaranteed money to a draft pick. Although late first-rounders typically don’t make or break a team’s cap sheet, the Nets are up against the wall with big money tied into Kevin Durant, Kevin Durant, Joe Harris, and potentially Kyrie Irving.
Irving is really the key to what’s happening with the Nets. Although he has a player option for $37 million, the big question is whether or not the Nets will give him an extension. The state of the Nets is in flux right now. Even if Irving and Kevin Durant come back into the fold, it can’t hurt to have this added level of flexibility.