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The Brooklyn Nets have deferred the 2022 first-round pick owed to them by the Philadelphia 76ers until 2023, the team confirmed to reporters on Wednesday. The pick was acquired in February's James Harden-Ben Simmons blockbuster trade, and it will be unprotected next season. Brooklyn's decision could potentially be beneficial for both sides.

For Brooklyn, the decision is largely an upside play. Harden has not yet made a decision on his $47 million player option, and he will turn 33 after an underwhelming second half in Philadelphia. Joel Embiid has dealt with injuries throughout his career as well, so if things go badly for the 76ers, the Nets stand to benefit significantly. 

If they go well? That pick can only slide by a maximum of seven slots. The reward far outweighs the risk, and the added bonus here is that the Nets, who will be deep into the luxury tax if Kyrie Irving returns, don't have to take on the added cost of a first-round pick on a rookie-scale contract.

The 76ers are less concerned with the long term than the Nets appear to be. With an aging Harden and Embiid as an injury risk, they want to win right now, and that pick gives them an extra asset to work with. In theory, they could shop it in a trade (though it technically cannot be traded until after it is made due to the Stepien Rule), or they could keep the rookie as cheap depth. With Harden, Embiid and Tobias Harris all making max money, cheap depth will be very important to Philadelphia.

Both the Nets and 76ers were disappointed with how the Harden trade shook out this season. Philadelphia got a version of Harden that lacked the burst and consistency of his peak years in Houston. Brooklyn never got a healthy Simmons on the court. Now, this pick is one of the last major pieces of that trade that could swing its outcome. The Nets are betting the 76ers will give them a valuable choice next year.