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.
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?