Perhaps the first truly surprising pick in the 2014 NBA draft came when the Philadelphia 76ers selected Louisiana-Lafayette point guard Elfrid Payton at No. 10 overall on Thursday.
In a plan that's consistent with the Sixers' rebuilding philosophy, though, they traded Payton to the Orlando Magic in exchange for international prospect Dario Saric from Croatia.
The team's official Twitter account confirmed the deal:
Commissioner Silver officially announces the Payton-Saric deal. Future picks coming from Orlando to Philadelphia.— Philadelphia 76ers (@Sixers) June 27, 2014
Welcome to Philadelphia Dario pic.twitter.com/vG5XVe5NVB— Scott O'Neil (@ScottONeil) June 27, 2014
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports provided further information:
In Magic-Sixers deal, future pick owed to Orlando goes back to Philly, source says.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) June 27, 2014
Philadelphia gets Orlando's 2017 first-round pick, 1-11 protected, in Saric-Payton deal. Pick is 1-8 protected in 2018.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) June 27, 2014
Along with Dario Saric, Orlando will send a 2015 second-round pick to the Sixers, league source said.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) June 27, 2014
Payton would have put reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams in a difficult spot. Given the way Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie has traded away assets, nothing can be ruled out with regard to how the Sixers eventually build into a contender.
The Magic needed a point guard to help 2013 top draft pick Victor Oladipo avoid running the point, and also serve as a long-term replacement for aging veteran Jameer Nelson. That's precisely what Payton provides, and his length on the perimeter will help Orlando's defense, while his ability to slash to the rim will open up opportunities for his new teammates.
NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper liked that the Magic acquired Payton, but ESPN's Mark Jones didn't see the benefit from Philadelphia's end:
Like the Elfrid Payton move for the Magic, BTW. After looking at the risks of Smart and Exum at 4, they get a true PG with a bright future.— Scott Howard-Cooper (@SHowardCooper) June 27, 2014
Eldridge Payton for Dario Saric.76ers are a heavy analytics team,Hinkie was in Houston,another heavy analytics crew.Outthinking themselves— MarkJonesESPN (@MarkJonesESPN) June 27, 2014
Saric was originally selected with the 12th pick—the second of the Orlando's two first-rounders. He is a dynamic player with the size to play power forward but the athleticism and ball-handling skills to be a point forward. The Sixers won't get an immediate return on this pick, since Saric is reportedly not coming to the NBA for at least two years.
This is yet another example of Philadelphia investing in the future. The question is how the Sixers plan to contend in the next year or two. Saric won't even play in the 2014-15 campaign—and their No. 3 overall pick in injured Kansas center Joel Embiid may not either.