Sixers-Kings Trade FAQ

The Philadelphia 76ers and the Sacramento Kings executed a trade in July of 2015 in which the Sixers sent the rights to Arturas Gudaitis (the 47th pick in the 2015 draft) and Luka Mitrovic (60th pick) to the Sacramento Kings for Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson, Carl Landry, the right (at the Sixers’ discretion) to swap first round picks with the Kings in both 2016 and 2017 drafts, as well as a future 1st round pick.

There has been a lot of confusion over some of details of that trade. I hope this short question and answer will help resolve some questions you may have.

Q: If the Sixers swap picks with the Kings in 2017, do they still get the 2019 pick?

A: Yes.

There are two aspects of this trade: the pick swaps, which the Sixers had the right to exercise in both 2016 (they did not) and 2017 (to be determined). Then there is the first round pick that the Kings owe the Sixers outright, which will be conveyed as an unprotected pick in 2019. They’re independent of each other.

Regardless of whether or not the Sixers swap picks with the Kings they will also get Sacramento’s 2019 draft pick as well.

Q: I read that the pick swap is protected. Is this true?

A: No.

Not in the typical sense, at least.

Typically, when something is called “protected”, it means that the team giving the asset away has some protection on it in case it ends up being “too good”. For example, team’s don’t want to trade away a pick that could end up being the #1 pick in the draft so they’ll make it top-5 protected, meaning that they get to keep the pick if it ends up falling 1-through-5 in the draft.

A long time ago the Kings sent the Bulls a top-10 protected pick, meaning the Bulls get the pick if it falls anywhere from 11 through 30. The Kings have never actually paid this debt because, well, they’ve been bad for a long time and this is the last year they can convey that pick to Chicago. So if the Kings’ draft pick ends up falling outside of the top 10 the Kings will be forced to send that to Chicago, which means that the Sixers then can’t swap picks. But it is not protected in the traditional sense. For example, if the Kings end up with the #1 pick in the 2017 draft after the lottery, the Sixers absolutely can swap picks with them.

And, let’s be real:

1. After the Cousins trade, the Kings pick will be in the top 10. This is purely academic at this point.

2. If for some miracle the Kings ended up with a pick outside of the top 10, there’s a low probability the Sixers pick would be worse anyway, so they’d have no interest in swapping.

Q: Can the Sixers decline to swap draft picks in 2017, and instead retain swap rights for 2018?

A: No.

2017 is the final year the Sixers have the option to swap picks with the Kings. So, if the Kings pick ends up at 5 and the Sixers pick ends up at 6, there’s no downside to swapping picks.

Q: I read that the draft pick owed to the Sixers was originally top-10 protected in 2018. Is it now guaranteed to convey in 2019 instead?

A: Yes.

This has the potential to be a long, confusion, complicated answer. Here’s the short one:

The pick owed to the Sixers was originally a top-10 protected 2018 pick, which would become unprotected in 2019 if it didn’t convey in 2018. That is currently where we stand. The draft pick will be unprotected in 2019.

The reason for that is a bit confusing, and based mostly on interpretation of the CBA and precedence of prior interpretations. I tried to explain it last May when, once Sacramento was locked into the top-10 in the 2016 draft it automatically pushed the pick owed to the Sixers to 2019, which is unprotected. While the explanation for why is tough and based mostly on past rulings, I have had multiple people around the league (with the team, with other teams, with the league office) confirm that it is the case.

Q: Can the Sixers swap the Lakers pick for the Kings pick?

A: No.

The Sixers can only swap their own pick for the Kings own pick.

Q: Can the Sixers trade the pick swap?

A: No.

But kind of.

What the Sixers can do is trade the “better of the two picks” to a team, which would be determined after May 16th’s lottery. What the Sixers cannot do is trade the right to swap picks to another team.

Here’s an example to show the difference.

Let’s say the Sixers make a trade with the Warriors. What they can agree to do is send the Warriors the better of the Sixers pick or the Kings pick. What they cannot do is trade the swap rights to the Warriors and allow the Warriors the right to swap their own pick for the Kings pick.

Q: If the Sixers fall out of the top-10 and the pick swap happens, do the Kings send that pick to Chicago?

A: My understanding is no. The Bulls only have the right to get the Kings pick. I would have to double check on the exact wording of the trade, though.

Q: If the Sixers swap with the Kings this year, does that prohibit the Sixers from trading a pick next year? 

A: No.

This question is in reference to the Stepien rule, which prevents teams from making a trade which would lead them to not having a 1st round draft pick in consecutive years. Swap rights came into prominence for this very reason (and eventually became popular because of team’s propensity to overstated their future trajectory), because even if they swap the Sixers will still have a 1st round pick in the 2017 draft, they’re just not sure which one. So they still retain that trade flexibility in the future.

(In addition to that, they are also guaranteed to have the Lakers pick in either 2017 or 2018. They’re not sure which year yet, but they will have it in one of those two drafts).

If you have any other questions which you think should be listed here, let me know and I’ll add it to the list. Thanks!