Should Heat, NBA be wary of pick packaging

The term "trading a draught" dates to Oct. 12, 1989, depending on the subject of the agreement.

No, Danny Ainge's fleecing of the Brooklyn Nets for four first-round picks with the Boston Celtics' trade of elderly Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce on June 28, 2013 scarcely qualifies as sports' "trading the draught" moment.

Think back to the NFL nearly 33 years ago. That's when Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones got the Cowboys probably the best draught package in U.S. sports history.

Pre-politics Herschel Walker joined the Minnesota Vikings. Why? Eight draught picks, including three first- and three second-rounders.

Through draughts and trades, those picks yielded Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Alonzo Highsmith, Kevin Smith, Darren Woodson.

Amid the trade? Three Super Bowls for the Cowboys, none for the Vikings. So why mention a football trade in an NBA section?

While no sports deal will ever rival "The Great Trade Robbery," pooling choices has become popular in the NBA, especially during this free agency period.

Before free agency, the Atlanta Hawks traded three first-rounders and a first-round pick for Dejounte Murray.

Then, on Friday, the Minnesota Timberwolves traded Rudy Gobert for four first-round selections and a swap.

And before all that, the Brooklyn Nets acquired James Harden from the Houston Rockets in January 2021 for three first-round selections and four first-round swaps (basically involving every Nets first-round pick from 2021 to 2027).

As Kevin Durant tries to move out of Brooklyn, the Nets have set a standard of three first-round picks plus first-round swaps. (The Miami Heat can offer two bonus picks.)

It's unlikely any of these moves will match the Cowboys' Walker trade reward, but time will tell.

It is an indication of more teams willing to live in the moment, an attitude the Heat and Pat Riley have adopted for years with first-round picks

especially when they were doled out en masse (and possibly over-exuberance) in 2010 to obtain LeBron James and Chris Bosh under longer-term contracts.

The NBA tried to curtail such largesse with the Stepien Rule, named after Ted Stepien, the then-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who sold away five consecutive first-round picks in the 1980s

picks that evolved become James Worthy, Michael Jordan, and Detlef Schrempf. Teams cannot trade consecutive first-round picks under the Stepien Rule.

Rule: "No Member may sell its right to select a player in the first round of any NBA Draft for cash or its equivalent, or trade or exchange its right to select a player in the first round of any NBA Draft

if the trade or exchange leaves the Member without first-round picks in any two consecutive future NBA Drafts."

Just as coaches found loopholes in game rules, executives have with pick swaps. This approach ensures the acquiring team the superior draught position in the chosen year.

So deal away a pick one year, then exchange picks the next, as the Rockets and Nets did in the 2021 Harden trade.

Based on the trend, NBA draughts might leave half the league's teams as spectators, another instance of have and have nots. With the Stepien Rule, the NBA protected team futures.

With the latest deals, teams encourage the NBA to live in the now. If Jimmy Johnson, Jerry Jones, and Herschel Walker knew.