The NBA draft is an anti-labor mechanism.
That’s often overlooked, as players dress up and celebrate getting drafted. People even talk about increasing (or not reducing) the number of draft picks… in order to benefit players.
But getting drafted limits players. Rather than being able to negotiate with all 30 NBA teams, drafted players have their NBA rights held exclusively by one team.
Case in point: Charles Bassey, whom the 76ers drafted No. 53 this year. Bassey and Philadelphia are at an impasse in contract negotiations.
Bassey’s camp was looking for a multi-year contract with a two-year guarantee.
Bassey’s request was also strengthened by the fact that he had a contract offer with a multi-year guarantee, similar to the one Boston Jr. signed, on the table from a team if he were to go undrafted, multiple sources told The Athletic.
The Sixers, by contrast, have only been willing to guarantee the first year of a proposed three-year deal, per multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations, something which they feel is commensurate with his draft slot.
No. 51 pick Brandon Boston Jr. got $2,488,776 guaranteed on his Clippers contract (minimum salary this season and next). If Bassey went undrafted, he could have gotten that multi-year guarantee from whichever team was offering it.
Instead, he’s stuck negotiating with only Philadelphia.
Bassey lacks leverage. He could accept his required tender – a one-year contract (surely unguaranteed at the minimum) teams must offer to retain rights on a second-round pick. Though that’d allow Bassey to enter free agency sooner, he’d be guaranteed no money at all. Philadelphia could cut him before the season.
For what it’s worth, the players’ union approved this system. However, the National Basketball Players Association is controlled by players already in the league. It’s naïve to think they’re “fairly” (whatever that word means) prioritizing the rights of second-round picks. Consideration for second-round picks can easily be traded away during collective bargaining for better terms for the veterans who are voting members of the union.
The 76ers want to pay Bassey enough that he won’t accept his required tender. If he signs the tender, his value as an asset drops. However, Philadelphia also doesn’t want to overpay just to prevent Bassey from accepting the required tender.
So, there’s a natural push-and-pull that could lead both sides toward a “fair” (again, whatever that word means) deal.
But nearly every other second-round pick has his situation resolved. This standoff dragging so long into offseason is rare.
Consider it another sign 76ers president Daryl Morey, who’s overseeing the Ben Simmons trade saga, is comfortable letting a team-player dispute linger.