The NBA Draft is a pretty straight forward process, especially during a year where there’s little drama behind the top three picks.
Zion Williamson went No. 1 to New Orleans, followed by Ja Morant to the Grizzlies and then RJ Barrett to the Knicks. All wore their team hats, posed for a photo, did an interview and went along their way.
However, there were some picks that might have confused some fans which was the consequence of some ridiculous NBA rules. The first example came at pick No. 4, when Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter was wearing a Lakers’ hat when he got on stage. Thing is, it’s been reported that Hunter is joining the Atlanta Hawks, who traded for the pick earlier in the day from the New Orleans Pelicans.
To complicate matters even further, the Pelicans had acquired the pick previously from the Lakers in the blockbuster Anthony Davis deal, which is why Hunter was ultimately sporting a Lakers cap in the photo with NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
It also happened with the No. 6 overall pick Jarrett Culver, who sported a Phoenix Suns cap but will be heading to Minnesota to play for the Timberwolves.
At least one NFL coach was not happy with how the NBA handles the situation, texting ESPN’s Adam Schefter about it.
“Text from NFL coach: ‘Gotta get the NBA to change the trade rules so they don’t keep sending these kids up there with wrong hats on — embarrassing.”
To make matters just a little more complicated for the casual fan, the NBA’s official draft Twitter account does not mention the trades.
Sports Illustrated dove into the issue following the 2015, exploring the situation when Nerlens Noel — the No. 6 pick in the 2013 draft — was wearing a New Orleans hat, but was actually heading to Philadelphia.
As Sports Illustrated points out, it boils down to semantics.
The confusing moment boils down to a silly deadline. NBA teams have until 2 p.m. on the day of the NBA draft to officially trade draft picks. Following that deadline, teams can agree to trade players and picks as the draft occurs, but in order to finalize those trades, teams must draft players with their original selections before trading the rights to those players.
For example, the Pelicans could not have traded the No. 6 pick in the 2013 draft directly to the Sixers. In order to essentially swap Noel for Holiday, the Pelicans had to select Noel at No. 6 and then send his draft rights to the 76ers (and the exclusive ability to negotiate his rookie contract).