When the AFL introduced future trading of draft picks it gave clubs flexibility in recruiting, but also created a double-edged sword.
While the AFL set safeguards to protect teams from themselves—such as being able to trade only one year into the future — it failed to consider anything around “pick protection”.
The irony of St Kilda’s smashing of Hawthorn in Round 6 was that after a shuffle of picks last year, the Saints have the Hawks’ first-round pick this year—and it might well be a top-five pick, far earlier than the Hawks anticipated.
In the NBA, clubs are allowed to trade picks seven years into the future, however it is common to “protect” those picks.
It is common for these protections to relax over several years. For example, a trade may involve a pick defined as protected if it becomes 1-14 the following year; 1-10 the year after; 1-6 the next year, and so on.
On Tuesday in the NBA's draft lottery, the Los Angeles Lakers held onto their 1st round pick in the upcoming draft as it fell in the top three (No.3 overall).
Had it fallen at No.4 or worse, it would have gone to Philadelphia (via) Phoenix as part of a 2012 deal for Steve Nash. The protection on this pick expires this year, so the 76ers receive the Lakers first-round pick next year, no matter the position.
On the flipside, New Orleans lost its first-round pick (10) to Sacramento (part of the DeMarcus Cousins trade) as it fell outside the top three. Had they kept it, it was only protected by the No.1 pick next year – so unless the Pelicans won the lottery in 2018, the pick was headed to the Kings.
If pick protection was possible in the AFL, Hawthorn might have stipulated that the first-round pick it sent to St Kilda had to fall in an agreed region — say from picks 10-18.
It would have resulted in the Hawks recovering their early pick this year, and having it transfer to 2018. Would the Hawks have done the deal if they knew then what they know now?
There have been plenty of cases of caveat emptor over the years, but this time it was more a case of seller beware.
While Hawthorn is set to be burnt by the deal, it isn’t the first, and won’t be the last.
Collingwood handed over its first-round draft pick as part of the Adam Treloar trade in 2015, as well as its future first-round selection in 2016.
That pick ended up being No.8 — earlier than the Magpies would have envisaged — which Fremantle ultimately used to select key defender Griffin Logue, a player who would have been a perfect fit for Collingwood.
The Pies expected to be giving up pick 7 and perhaps 12-15 (having possibly forecast that they would make the top eight) for Treloar. Would they have negotiated differently had they known it would be 7 and 8? Maybe, maybe not.
But there have been cases where future pick trades have worked well for both parties.
In 2015, along with picks 6 and 29, Melbourne shipped out its first-round pick in the 2016 draft in order to secure a trio of selections from Gold Coast, including pick 3.
It used that pick on Clayton Oliver, while with pick 10 (which became 9) it took Sam Weideman.
That deal helped the Suns secure a talented youngster, Will Brodie, in last year’s draft.
Last year, Port Adelaide tipped out its first-round pick in the coming draft to gain extra selections in the 2016 draft, as it had assessed the comparable strengths of both drafts and felt that there was greater depth and quality in last year’s crop.
That pick is now in the hands of Brisbane, which might have expected it to land a little sooner than it currently appears it will, but it helps the Lions continue to rebuild with another selection inside the top 15.