Dan Feldman

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 25:  Abdel Nader #2 of the Iowa State Cyclones reacts in the second half against the Virginia Cavaliers during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at United Center on March 25, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Abdel Nader reportedly pledged to play for Celtics’ D-League team, but still deciding whether he actually will

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The Celtics are slowly working through their eight (!) 2016 draft picks.

They signed No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown to a rookie-scale contract. No. 16 pick Guerschon Yabusele and No. 23 pick Ante Zizic will spend next season overseas. Boston traded the Nos. 31 and 35 picks on draft night. No. 45 pick Demetrius Jackson got a historically large first-year salary for someone picked so low, and No. 51 pick Ben Bentil received a partial guarantee and likely a ticket to the D-League.

That leaves just No. 58 pick Abdel Nader – and this one could take a while.

When the Celtics drafted the lightly heralded forward from Iowa State, the assumption was he had agreed to play in the D-League without signing an NBA contract.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

Often, teams and players reach a verbal agreement on this option, and several league sources said this was the case with the Celtics and Nader. But it is clear that Nader’s strong summer has given his camp at least some reluctance about taking the domestic draft-and-stash route.

“He’s an NBA player, that’s my belief,” said Nader’s agent, Cervando Tejeda. “Right now, we have to decide what the next move is.”

Boston must offer Nader a required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum – before Sept. 6 to retain his rights. Barring an under-the-table and credible offer from the Celtics on a future payday, Nader’s best course is accepting the tender.

If Nader accepts the tender, he’d go to training camp. Best-case scenario, he’d make the regular-season roster and earn $3,197 per day he remains on it. It’d take just a couple weeks to eclipse a full-season D-League salary. But that’s probably a pipe dream. Boston already has 16 players – one more than the regular-season roster limit – with fully guaranteed salaries, and Bentil has a partial guarantee. The Celtics would almost certainly waive Nader and assign his D-League rights to their affiliate. Nader could then join the Maine Red Claws.

If Nader is just going to end up with the Red Claws anyway, why is this so complicated?

By getting waived by the Celtics, Nader would become an NBA free agent. Any NBA team could sign him from the D-League, even though he’s playing for Boston’s affiliate.

If he rejects the tender offer, the Celtics would retain his exclusive negotiating rights for a year. They’d be the only NBA team that could sign him unless they traded him.

So, Nader would gain far more leverage by accepting the tender. It’s really a no-brainer.

Except Nader apparently already promised to reject the tender.

That’s certainly why Boston drafted him. Most teams in that position pick their highest-rated prospect who agrees to the arrangement. If Nader declined, the Celtics would have found someone else who wanted the “privilege” of being drafted.

It’s a bad deal for players, and their agents should stop putting them in this position. Now, Nader faces a dilemma: Do what’s clearly optimal for his career in a vacuum or honor a promise he made before being drafted?

Emeka Okafor attempting NBA comeback

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 07:  Emeka Okafor #50 of the Washington Wizards against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 7, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
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Emeka Okafor last played in the NBA in the 2012-2013 season. He missed all of 2013-14 with a neck injury. During the 2014-15 season, a reportedly “healthy” Okafor chose to delay his return another year. But the 2015-16 season came and went without a deal.

Now, Okafor is talking comeback yet again.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

Emeka Okafor, the former No. 2 overall pick who has been out of the NBA for three seasons, has decided to attempt a comeback with an eye toward joining a “contending team” in December or January.

League sources said last season he spoke with Cleveland, Miami and Golden State before deciding to delay his return.

Warriors general manager Bob Myers, whose club lost big men Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli and Marreese Speights in the purge to make room for free agent Kevin Durant, said he had “a conversation” with Okafor a couple of months ago and will monitor the big man’s progress.

Okafor turns 34 in September, and he has missed three seasons. I’m skeptical to say the least.

The three teams linked to him last season have plenty of players who can play center:

Working in Okafor’s favor: The center market in free agency has largely dried up. Working against him: That’s because teams have nearly completely filled their center needs.

But players will get hurt, and maybe someone could use Okafor by winter, when he’s attempting to return.

Kevin Durant, Warriors scheduled to play at Oklahoma City on Feb. 11

DENVER, CO - APRIL 5:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder looks on from the bench late in the game against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on April 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Thunder defeated the Nuggets 124-102. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The most-anticipated game of the 2016-17 NBA regular season is Warriors at Thunder.

More specifically, it’s Kevin Durant at Oklahoma City.

The date is set.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

There’s some tension between Durant and:

Should be fun.

Australia pulls away from Serbia, sets up matchup with Team USA

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 08:  Matthew Dellavedova #8 of Australia reacts during the Men's Basketball preliminary round Pool A game against Serbia on Day 3 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Carioca Arena 1 on August 8, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Ready for Matthew Dellavedova in a bigger role?

After escaping Kyrie Irving‘s shadow with the Cavaliers, Dellavedova could start as a quasi-point guard with Giannis Antetokounmpo for the Bucks this season.

Dellavedova might have previewed what’s in store for Milwaukee – and Irving and Team USA – with 23 points and 13 assists in Australia’s 95-80 win over Serbia on Monday.

Australia’s next game is Wednesday against the Americans, who will first thump Venezuela at 6 p.m. today. Australia might not be a huge test for Team USA either, but the team from Down Under could be the U.S.’s top opponent in Rio.

Australia is the first men’s basketball team with two wins in the 2016 Olympics, beating France – which entered the Games favored to medal – by 21 in their opener. Serbia, which beat Venezuela by 24 in its opener, was also no slouch.

But Australia relied on its point guards to pull away late. Not only did Dellavedova excel, the Spurs’ Patty Mills led Australia with 26 points.

Serbia just had nowhere to hide Milos Teodosic, who scored 17 points but was a big liability defensively. For any NBA team considering signing Teodosic, a talented offensive point guard, this game should provide serious reservations.

Miroslav Raduljica, who played for the Bucks and Timberwolves, made a better case for an NBA return with 25 points. Aggressive and physical, the center was difficult to stop inside.

But Australia held its ground in the middle with a couple proven NBAers, Andrew Bogut and Aron Baynes, and staked its claim as a medal contender.

Legend: Hakeem Olajuwon once ate 100 chicken nuggets

Ken Levine/Getty Images

Hakeem Olajuwon made the Basketball Hall of Fame. He won an NBA MVP and two championships. He earned a spot on 12 All-NBA and 12 All-Star teams. He even recorded a quadruple-double.

He also ate a lot of chicken nuggets.

Houston Chronicle online sports editor Greg Rajan:

That’s a lot of chicken nuggets, but this was over five hours, and Olajuwon had a 7-foot frame to fill out.

We rate this claim: plausible.

(hat tip: Darren Yuvan of The Dream Shake)