Written by Garrett Catalana – @GarrettCatalana
Following some confusion on Twitter last week about the Sixers-Kings trade from this past summer, I decided to write a piece that hopefully will put any uncertainty to rest. This is an extremely detailed article, so I hope you can follow along. So let’s start out with six basic facts about the nature of the Sixers-Kings trade:
- July 10, 2015: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Sacramento Kings completed a trade involving the movement of draft picks, the rights to drafted players, and active players.
- The active players that the Sixers acquired in the deal were Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, and Jason Thompson.
- The Kings received the draft rights to Arturas Gudaitis (47th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft; pick was acquired from the Wizards in the Eric Maynor 2014 trade) & the draft rights to Luka Mitrovic (60th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft; pick was acquired from the Pacers in the Evan Turner 2014 trade)
- The Sixers received draft pick compensation from the Kings for taking on over $16 million in 2015/16 salaries between Stauskas, Thompson, and Landry. There are three parts to the draft pick compensation:
- The right for Philadelphia to swap first round picks with the Kings for the 2016 NBA Draft.
- The right for Philadelphia to swap first round picks with the Kings for the 2017 NBA Draft.
- Philadelphia receives the Kings first round pick in either 2018 or 2019.
- The Kings currently owe a protected first round pick to the Chicago Bulls from a previous trade made in 2011 to acquire J.J. Hickson.
- Because of the Kings obligation to the Bulls, the Stephien Rule applies in regards to the first round pick owed to the Sixers in either 2018 or 2019.
With these six facts stated, let’s start with the transaction that dictates what will happen to the Sixers as far as compensation in the future: the J.J. Hickson trade.
The J.J. Hickson Trade
Back in June of 2011, the Kings acquired Hickson from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Omri Casspi and a future first round pick. This future first round pick had protections, which were as follows:
2012 Draft: Protected from picks 1-14
2013 Draft: Protected from picks 1-13
2014 Draft: Protected from picks 1-12
2015 – 2017 Drafts: Protected from picks 1-10
This future first round pick had obligations to the Cavaliers for six years from the 2012 Draft to the 2017 Draft. The Kings were bad enough record-wise to fall below these protections in the last four drafts to keep their first round picks (drafted Willie Cauley-Stein, Nik Stauskas, Ben McLemore, & Thomas Robinson).
From the Cavaliers to the Bulls:
In 2014, this Kings first round pick changed hands. At the trade deadline in 2014, the Cavaliers made a series of win-now moves to try and sneak into the playoffs, including trading away the Kings pick, Andrew Bynum, and two second round picks to the Bulls for Luol Deng. So now, this top-10 protected Kings pick has obligations to the Bulls, not the Cavs.
If the Kings finish with a draft pick 1-10 in the next two seasons, the Kings will no longer owe a first round pick to the Bulls. Instead, in 2017, the Kings will convey its own 2017 second-rounder to the Bulls. Following that, the Kings obligation to the Bulls is extinguished.
This is similar to the Arnett Moultrie draft night trade in 2012, where the Sixers traded a lottery-protected first round pick to the Heat in exchange for Moultrie’s draft rights. This future first was protected for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 drafts. Because the Sixers were in the lottery in all three drafts, their obligation no longer contained a first round pick. Instead, they had to convey its own 2015 and 2016 second round picks to the Boston Celtics, who acquired this future first from the Heat a year prior. The Celtics drafted Jordan Mickey using the Sixers’ second round pick with the 33rd pick.
What This Bulls Obligation Means for the Sixers:
Because the Kings still owe a top-10 protected pick to the Bulls, the Sixers can only exercise their right to swap first round picks with the Kings if their pick falls anywhere from 1 to 10. The Kings can only keep their 2016 and 2017 first round picks if their pick falls within the top 10, but is a higher pick compared to the Sixers, meaning the Sixers wouldn’t exercise their right to swap picks. If the Kings finish anywhere 11 to 30 in the next two drafts, its first round pick is conveyed to the Bulls.
There is a scenario where the Kings can finish outside of the playoffs but finish with a record better than the tenth worst team and have the pick swap still in play. If the Kings finished anywhere from 11 to 14 before the NBA lottery has happened, there is a slim chance the pick finished inside the top 10. The only way this is possible is if the Kings were to jump into the top-3 of the draft, which could be beneficially to the Sixers if lady-luck isn’t on their side.
The Stephien Rule:
When it comes to the Kings first round pick that is owed to the Sixers, the Stephien Rule comes into play. This rule was named for the former owner of the Cavaliers who traded first round picks away five straight years from 1982 to 1986. The NBA created a rule prohibiting teams from trading first round picks in successive drafts. It is important to note that draft swaps aren’t included in the Stephien Rule, even if the Sixers exercise the right to swap picks with the Kings in 2016 (if possible), the Kings still owe a first rounder to the Bulls in 2017. Because of the Kings’ obligation to the Bulls in the summer of 2015, the earliest the Kings could trade a first rounder would be two years after the current obligation with the Bulls is met.
The Kings’ Obligation to the Sixers:
At the time of the Sixers-Kings trade, the earliest the Kings obligation to the Bulls could end would be the 2016 draft. This meant that the earliest the Kings could trade another first round pick was 2018. That first round pick was traded to the Sixers. As part of the trade, the Kings put a protection on that 2018 first round pick (1-10). If the Kings finish anywhere 11-30, the Sixers will receive their pick and the Kings obligation to the Sixers is extinguished. It is very important to note that the only way that the 2018 top-10 protected pick could be conveyable to the Sixers is if the Kings finished 11-30 and convey their pick to the Bulls in 2016. If the Kings finish 1-10 its obligation to the Bulls is pushed back another year to 2017 and so is its obligation to the Sixers to 2019.
If the Kings do no convey their pick to the Bulls in 2016, the Kings will be sending either a first round or second round pick to the Bulls in 2017, ending its obligation to Chicago. The Bulls will receive a first round pick if the Kings finish anywhere 11-30, but if the Kings finish anywhere 1-10, the Bulls will instead receive the Kings second round pick. Also remember that if the Kings finish anywhere 1-10 in 2017, the Sixers have the right to swap picks.
Following the ending of the Kings obligation to the Bulls in 2017, the Kings will send a first round pick to the Sixers in 2019. The Kings would keep its first round pick anywhere 1-30 in 2018 because of the Stephien Rule.
The Unprotected 2019 First Round Pick:
The pick owed to the Sixers by the Kings in 2019 is completely unprotected, meaning regardless of where the Kings finish out, the Sixers will receive their pick. This is opposed to the possible 2018 first round pick, which has top-10 protections.
There are only two scenarios where the Sixers can receive the 2019 unprotected Kings pick:
- The Kings finish anywhere 11-30 in 2016 (conveying pick to the Bulls), but finish anywhere 1-10 in 2018 (owed to the Sixers but protected 1-10).
- The Kings finish anywhere 1-10 in 2016, meaning the obligation to the Bulls continues another year into 2017, pushing the obligation to the Sixers back to 2019.
It’s Better to Have the 2019 Kings First Round Pick:
So why is it better having the Kings pick in 2019, rather than 2018? Two reasons:
- There are no protections in 2019, whereas 2018 has protections for the first third of the draft
- DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings’ franchise player, will be an unrestricted free agent following the 2017-2018 season. If he walks in free agency, it could leave the franchise devastated and set up for a terrible 2018-2019 season, where the Sixers own their pick.
Sixers fans should be wanting the Kings to lose out the rest of the season because the possibility to swap first round picks would still be in play if the Kings hit lottery gold and that the top-10 protected 2018 pick would be out of play, leaving just a completely unprotected pick in 2019. Hopefully the Sixers are contenders by 2019, but having that Kings pick in the back of their pocket would be icing on the cake. Think when the 1982 world champion Lakers were able to select 7-time All-Star James Worthy with the first overall pick acquired in a previous trade.
Sam Hinkie completely took advantage of an inexperienced general manager (Vlade Divac) by taking on some $16 million just to bolster his odds of acquiring a franchise-level talent at the top of the draft. It’s also nice to know that Divac used that $16 million to sign role players Marco Belinelli, Kosta Koufos, Caron Butler, and James Anderson. Rather than using the stretch provision on Thompson and Landry, Divac felt it necessary to completely mortgage the future of the franchise by trading draft picks for role players.
It’s impossible for the Sixers to lose this trade, because they gave up essentially nothing ($16 million in cap room and two overseas players) to acquire three players and draft picks. The degree to which Philly will win this trade depends on the development of Nik Stauskas, the win-loss record of the Kings, DeMarcus Cousins’ free agency plans, and some luck on lottery night. We can only hope that we don’t have to rely on the Kings to get the team back to winning. We will take care of that ourselves.
*click to enlarge