The MLB, NFL, and even the NHL can be notorious for their rookie contract disputes. In the NBA, with a rush to get into the league at a reasonable age, most usually end up being fine with the pay scale and set contracts in place. That is until draft stashing comes into play.
When the Celtics claimed Abdel Nader—an Egyptian-American and part of this draft’s overwhelmingly global background—58th overall out of Iowa State, few batted an eyelash. Jonathan Givony and others reported that Nader had agreed to sign directly with the D-League Maine Red Claws, continuing the trend of Danny Ainge stashing his mass of collected picks, and that was that. Except it wasn’t.
#58 pick Abdel Nader from Iowa State has agreed to be stashed in the D-League next year.— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 24, 2016
As the summer rolled on and most focused on the whirlwind of trade rumors that eventually settled into nothing, the Celtics slowly came to terms with their rookies across the board. Unsurprisingly Jaylen Brown signed his four-year deal while Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic were stashed in China and Croatia respectively. To add to the stacked training camp roster, the team also granted a massive deal for a second-round pick to Demetrius Jackson while Ben Bentil got a partially guaranteed three-year deal.
So where was Nader? As sure as Frank Ocean not dropping an album, there was no news on his contract. Apparently becoming a summer league stud changed his tune. In eight games he averaged 10.0 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 49% on 64 attempts. It was certainly impressive for a player at the back-end of the draft, but only a few saw it as a serious contending effort for an already packed roster in Boston.
He’s an NBA player, that’s my belief...right now, we have to decide what the next move is.”
According to Dan Feldman at NBC Sports, the next move for the Celtics is to offer Nader a minor one-year tender that will be of minimum cost by September 6 to retain his draft rights. There’s only one issue, Nader is reportedly threatening to decline the tender.
Nader doesn’t have much leverage here. If he wants to get to training camp, accepting the tender would be the most surefire route as it would guarantee his presence there. The issue is that it wouldn’t even be close to a sure spot the Boston roster, which is what his agent seems to be pushing.
What’s interesting is that under NBA guidelines, Nader would actually be better off accepting his tender. It would force the Celtics to waive him after training camp, where he’d be sent to Maine as a D-League free agent, where he’d be able to prove himself and sign a contract from there with any NBA team.
If he declines, the Celtics will hold his draft rights for a year where they’d have exclusive signing and trade rights on him. He’d also be off the basketball court in the meantime. A sure lose-lose.
Getting drafted in the second round can stink. It’ll be an uphill battle for Nader from here, one that may not include the Celtics. For now the two sides remain at odds, but the writing is already on the wall. Boston has 16 players on guaranteed deals for 2015-16 and must start breaking down the roster this fall. In that equation, Nader is outside the box unless he comes through on his draft night promise and signs with Maine.