Nearly two months have passed since this year’s draft, but it’s still unclear where 11 of the 60 draftees will play this year. Most have either signed with their NBA teams or agreed to play overseas or in the D-League, as our log of draft pick signings shows, but the fates of a significant portion of this year’s draftees are unknown. The Sixers, who’ve taken the past two summers at a glacial pace under GM Sam Hinkie, account for four of the unsigned draft picks, but they aren’t alone.
Here’s a look at where each unsigned draftee stands. The situations involving some of them have been well-documented, while others remain largely shrouded in mystery, so I’ve taken my best educated guess about the reasons behind the delays. The position in which each player was drafted is in parentheses.
- Joel Embiid, Sixers (third overall) — Embiid won’t be hitting the court for a while, no matter when he signs. The latest timetable for his recovery from a broken foot would put him back in action sometime between November and February, so while it’s possible he plays a majority of the season, there’s a decent chance he won’t be back until after the All-Star break. In any case, it seems he’ll miss time, but probably not the entire season, as the highly drafted Nerlens Noel did for the Sixers last year. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sixers held off on signing Embiid until late September, the time of year when they inked Noel in 2013. Keeping Embiid unsigned maximizes Philadelphia’s flexibility, since the Sixers could exceed the salary cap to sign him if they find a way to use their ample room beneath the cap.
- P.J. Hairston, Hornets (26th overall) — Hairston signed with an agent who wasn’t union-certified, and that appears to be at the root of the hold-up here. Charlotte is only carrying 14 players, so it would seem there’s a spot set aside for Hairston once his representation is in order.
- K.J. McDaniels, Sixers (32nd overall) — There are no cap exceptions set aside specifically for second-round draftees as there are for first-rounders, so Philly’s plausible explanation for the lack of an Embiid signing doesn’t apply to McDaniels. Most picks at the top of the second round receive slightly more than the minimum salary, but perhaps the Sixers are holding out for the possibility that they’ll need to use the minimum salary exception should they manage to exhaust their cap room. McDaniels would probably prefer a deal with the rebuilding Sixers, for whom he could play a significant role as a rookie, rather than a trek overseas, so that could be behind his patience.
- Jerami Grant, Sixers (39th overall) — What holds for McDaniels probably holds for Grant, too. Philadelphia’s apparent inclusion in the Kevin Love trade agreement also looms as a possible explanation for the hesitance the Sixers have shown to sign their draft picks.
- Glenn Robinson III, Timberwolves (40th overall) — The Wolves reportedly would like to bring Robinson aboard, but they’re carrying 15 guaranteed contracts, and that number doesn’t appear set to change according to the latest reports on the structure of the Love deal.
- Nikola Jokic, Nuggets (41st overall) — Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post wrote last month that Jokic wouldn’t be on the Nuggets roster for this fall, but definitive word on where he’ll end up remains elusive. The Nuggets have at least a partially guaranteed commitment to 16 players, so there’s little wiggle room for a change of plans on Denver’s end.
- Dwight Powell, Cavaliers (45th overall) — The Love swap could be playing into Powell’s situation, too, and Cleveland has generally been slow to formalize deals with its free agent signings this summer. There’s been no report of an agreement between the team and Powell, but the dynamics of the Love trade agreement appear to set the Cavs up to have no more than 14 players with any guaranteed salary for this season. It’s conceivable that there will be news of a Powell signing soon after the Love trade becomes official.
- Jordan Clarkson, Lakers (46th overall) — Multiple reports have indicated that the Lakers are expected to sign Clarkson before training camp begins, but there doesn’t appear to have been any agreement yet. The Lakers can offer no more than a two-year deal for the minimum salary, more or less locking in the terms for any deal, and the team is only carrying 14 players, so it’s tough to see why Clarkson remains unsigned.
- Alec Brown, Suns (50th overall) — Brown originally appeared set to play overseas, but Channing Frye‘s departure apparently changed that, as Suns GM Ryan McDonough said last month. It still remains unclear whether Brown will end up with Phoenix this year, and the Suns appear to be putting much of their business on hold until Eric Bledsoe‘s restricted free agency is resolved. Phoenix is carrying 13 players, all on guaranteed deals.
- Semaj Christon, Thunder (55th overall) — Oklahoma City has 14 guaranteed deals, but Hasheem Thabeet‘s non-guaranteed contract is set to become guaranteed next month, so there doesn’t appear to be room for Christon. It’s possible that the Thunder envision having Christon sign with the D-League and play with their affiliate, much like the team’s arrangement with 29th overall pick Josh Huestis. Grant Jerrett, the Thunder’s second-rounder from 2013, began last season on a D-League deal, so there’s plenty of precedent.
- Jordan McRae, Sixers (58th overall) — McRae seems caught up in the same dynamics in which the other Sixers draftees find themselves, though as a player taken near the end of the second round, it’d be a long shot if he were to ink for more than the minimum salary, unlike McDaniels and Grant.