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NBA Free Agency: An 8-Step Beginner's Guide 

Shubham Pant
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We all have seen the jaw-dropping trades go down in the NBA, be it Kyrie Irving - Isaiah Thomas swap or just a simple draft pick switch between 2 teams. But there is a lot of things that go unseen and unnoticed in most of these trades.

San Antonio Spurs v Boston Celtics
Kyrie and IT trade deal last season was one of the biggest talking points last season

So, let us find out what these unnoticed details are, what they mean, when they are applicable and an example of a trade where it was used.

1. Protected pick:

  • What does it mean?

If 2 teams, Team A and Team B are trading their players and Team A decided to send a 2019 first round pick protected top 5 to Team B, it means that Team A gets the 2019 first round draft pick if it is from 1-5, Team B gets the draft pick if its from 6-30. There are different iterations of a protected pick. It could be top 3, top 5, top 10, etc.

Post NBA Draft Press Conference
Luka Doncic trade for the Mavericks cost them their future draft picks

  • When is it applicable?

It is applicable the following year, when the draft lottery takes place and the order is announced. If the pick is between the range decided, say top 3, then Team A gets it if it is in between 1-3 and Team B gets it if it is between 4-30.

  • Example:

1. Luka Doncic to Dallas Mavericks, Trae Young and 2019 1st round pick top 5 protected to the Atlanta Hawks.

The deal is structured in such a way that if the pick is in between 1 and 5, the Mavericks retain it, else the Hawks get it if it is from 6 to 30.

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