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When the Philadelphia 76ers landed James Harden and Paul Millsap back in February, they shipped out Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and a couple of draft picks.

Among those picks, the Sixers dealt away their 2022 first-round selection. However, the pick had a condition attached. If the Nets decided they didn’t want the pick by the early June deadline, they could defer, and the Sixers would own the slot once again.

As the 2021-2022 season winded down, it seemed the Sixers were under the assumption they wouldn’t have a selection in the 2022 NBA Draft unless they acquired one in the trade market.

But with the NBA Draft Lottery and Combine in the rearview and the draft quickly approaching, it seems the Sixers are operating with the mindset that they will have a pick on June 23.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice reported on Monday that it’s “likely” the Nets will defer the 2022 pick and hold out for next year. Therefore, the Sixers would come on the board at No. 23 unless they use the pick as a trade chip before they are on the clock.

“Just over a week out from the deadline, I've been told it's relatively likely the Nets will opt to defer that pick to next season, a big enough chance that the Sixers are actively preparing to be armed with that chip this summer. Should they have it, it clears up what will be one of their most important bartering chips to upgrade the roster around Joel Embiid and Harden, whether it's to select another young, cost-efficient player (at 23 or potentially higher up the board) or package that pick in a bigger deal for a ready-made vet.”

The Sixers met with several prospects last week in Chicago to get to know some of the players that could potentially be on the board when the 23rd pick rolls around.

While it’s not a guarantee the Nets defer the pick at this time, it seems the Sixers are confident they won’t lose out on their first-rounder this year.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.

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