Nuggets, Thunder Agree To Draft-Pick Trade

As the Nuggets prepare for Game 4 of the NBA Finals, their front office has reached an agreement on a trade with the Thunder, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, Denver will receive three draft picks in the swap: this year’s No. 37 selection, the least favorable of the Thunder’s 2024 first-round picks, and a 2024 second-rounder.

Oklahoma City, meanwhile, will receive Denver’s 2029 first-round pick, with some protections on it.

The Thunder currently control four 2024 first-round selections. In addition to their own first-rounder, they’ll receive Houston’s pick (if it lands outside the top four), the Clippers’ pick (unprotected), and Utah’s pick (if it’s outside of the top 10). As a result of this new agreement, the Nuggets will receive whichever of those picks conveyed in ’24 lands latest in the first round.

As for the ’24 second-rounder, the Thunder have traded away their own pick, but are owed the least favorable of Charlotte’s and Minnesota’s second-rounders. It sounds like that will be the selection rerouted to Denver.

From the Nuggets’ perspective, it looks like the deal is about continuing to give the front office opportunities to add inexpensive young players to a championship-caliber core in the next year or two. The team did well to add Christian Braun and Peyton Watson outside of the top 20 in the 2022 draft and will aim to identify more hidden gems with the Nos. 37 and 40 picks in the 2023 draft. As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Denver is a tax team, so those second-rounders will give the club some tools to fortify its bench at a low cost.

As for the Thunder, they’ll simply roll some of their draft assets down the road — the goal will be to turn a late 2024 first-rounder into a more favorable pick in the 2029 draft, using a couple second-rounders as sweeteners.

The two Northwest rivals made a similar trade last June, when the Nuggets acquired the No. 30 pick in 2022 (used on Watson) and a pair of second-rounders in exchange for their lightly protected 2027 first-rounder.

The Nuggets owe their 2025 first-round pick (top-five protected) to Orlando and their 2027 first-rounder (top-protected) to Oklahoma City. If either of those picks lands in its protected range and isn’t conveyed immediately, the Thunder wouldn’t be able to receive Denver’s 2029 pick due to the Stepien rule, which prevents a team from leaving itself without a first-rounder in consecutive future drafts.

We’ll have to wait to see exactly when this trade is completed and what the details on the protections are to know what would happen if the 2025 or 2027 pick ends up in the top five, preventing the 2029 pick from conveying. If the two teams wait until after the June 22 draft to officially complete the deal, they could include terms allowing the pick to roll over to 2030 if it’s not conveyed in 2029. For now, that’s not permitted, since draft picks can’t be traded more than seven years out.

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