Nets Dealt Grim Hand on Fallout From James Harden Trade, NBA Execs Say

James Harden guards Kyrie Irving

Getty Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets tries to keep the ball from James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers .

As a part of the trade that had the Brooklyn Nets trade All-Stars James Harden and Paul Millsap to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Andre Drummond, the Nets also received two first-round draft picks from the Sixers. Per ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nets received Philadelphia’s unprotected 2022 first-round pick, with the right to defer it to 2023, as well as a top-8-protected 2027 first-round pick.

The Nets are expected to once again be title contenders in 2023 and are looking to add players who can contribute to their team from day one. It is the reason that one NBA executive expects general manager Sean Marks and the Nets front office to defer the pick that is available to use this year, until 2023.

“There is too much for them to figure out to be able to make that pick this year,” one NBA source told’s, Sean Deveney. “They want young players to bring into the mix, Sean Marks wants to draft guys. But he’s got to think about winning a championship while he can. If you can put off that decision, it’s the right thing.”

The latest Nets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Nets newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Nets!

Only Rebuilding Teams Can Offer Kyrie the Max If He Walks

On May 25, Kristian Winfield of the “New York Daily News” reported that the Nets are unwilling to give Kyrie Irving a long-term extension at this time. It could just be the growing pains of the beginning stages of contract negotiations. But Winfield notes that if Kyrie were to say goodbye to Brooklyn, the only teams who could offer him the maximum contract of $185 million are currently in a rebuilding stage.

“Irving has about a month to make a decision whether or not he will opt into the final year of his contract in Brooklyn or test free agency. The teams that can clear enough cap space to sign him to his max of 35% of the salary cap — four years, upwards of $185M — are not in a position to compete for a deep playoff run,” Winfield writes per the “New York Daily News”.

“This is where the Nets believe they have leverage, but in reality, Irving would only need to be creative. A team can trade a summertime free-agent acquisition no sooner than Dec. 15, which means Irving can agree to a deal with either the Spurs, Pacers, Pistons, Magic, or Trail Blazers, then be re-routed elsewhere, with the initial team compensated in draft assets and young players. If that happens, Irving’s $36.5M salary would come off the Brooklyn books, but the Nets would still have $121M on the payroll with a $122M salary cap.”

Nets Can Max Irving and Still Protect the Future

Kyrie is a generational talent, and though they have their fair share of … issues with the All-Star guard, having a player of his caliber on the roster, can only increase your team’s chances of winning. Winfield notes that the Nets can risk signing the often-absent Irving to a long-term deal, and still give themselves insurance by refusing a no-trade clause as part of the terms.

“The Nets can bite the bullet and pray that Irving wants to win a championship as badly as he says he does. Even if they sign him to a four- or five-year deal now, they can refuse a no-trade clause and trade him elsewhere if the availability issues persist,” Winfield continues.

“What they can’t do, however, is replace him if he walks as a free agent. If Irving walks as a free agent, he might not be the only one leaving Brooklyn. That reality is far worse than what the Nets could have if they stick to the plan and ride it out with their stars.”

Kyrie played just 29 games last season and has yet to play a full 82-game season with the Nets. Although he is a generational talent, it does the Nets no good to have him on the roster if he won’t be available. It will be interesting to see if the two sides can agree on a deal.

 READ NEXT: Nets Urged to Target Elite Shot-Blocking Center in Free Agency

Read More