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Is it time for the AFL to take the "training wheels" of future draft pick trading?


This week in the NBA we have seen trades flying left and right featuring future first round picks.

The New Orleans Pelicans received a huge package of picks for guard Jrue Holiday, who was moved to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Part of that package included selections in the 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027 NBA drafts.

The idea of trading something seven years in the future is foreign to the AFL, with the movement of future picks currently limited to just the one year in advance.

The trade period has just closed and it goes without saying that greater flexibility to exchange draft selections beyond 2021 would have helped accelerate some of the bigger deals.

Veteran AFL opposition analyst and strategy coach Rob Harding believes the time has come for the league to allow teams the ability to trade picks beyond the one-year limit.

“This is a changing landscape and you talk about the NBA and the future picks that get traded there, I’d like to see in the long-term us do the same thing and open up the range of picks available to be swapped,” Harding told SEN’s Bob and Andy.

“It would allow for a bit more movement and a bit more creativity and then potentially you can have a crack in one year, but also look to make some trades for future years and balance it out a little bit more.”

Playing devil’s advocate, Andy Maher stated why he thinks the AFL would be concerned about such trade freedom.

“I feel like the AFL doesn’t trust clubs not to mismanage this. If they do open it up, I think the fear is some clubs will make some mistakes that could prove catastrophic and they want to guard against that,” Maher said.

However, Harding believes the AFL should trust its 18 teams and also feels the league should not get in the way of their list management decisions.

“It’s not a concern I have. I understand it from the AFL’s perspective, but it’s not up to the AFL to manipulate how club’s manage their lists and do their list management,” he said.

“I’m up for allowing the clubs plenty of freedom and letting them live or die by their decisions.”

Former Western Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy believes AFL teams would not abuse their greater freedoms.

“Don’t you think AFL footy tends to be a bit more cautious with the sort of stuff? With trading and drafting, it seems more conservative and it is the team who goes bold who is successful, then that lifts the watermark for everyone else,” Murphy said.

“So I’m not sure we need these training wheels on the trades and the picks.”

NBA teams have mortgaged their futures in the past by trading future picks.

The most infamous trade of this type saw the Brooklyn Nets acquire ageing stars Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics in exchange for three future first round picks.

The Nets’ roster quickly fell apart in the ensuing years, handing the Celtics draft capital they would use to land Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who are now the cornerstones of the franchise. They used the third pick to trade for superstar point guard Kyrie Irving.

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