When top college prospects like Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball are drafted, there’s virtually no doubt that their next step will involve signing an NBA contract. However, that’s not the case for every player who is selected in the NBA draft, particularly for international prospects and second-round picks.
When an NBA team uses a draft pick on a player, it gains his NBA rights, but that doesn’t mean the player will sign an NBA contract right away. International prospects will often remain with their professional team overseas for at least one more year to develop their game further, becoming “draft-and-stash” prospects. Nikola Mirotic, Dario Saric, and Bogdan Bogdanovic are among the more notable players to fit this bill in recent years.
However, draft-and-stash players can be former NCAA standouts too. Sometimes a college prospect selected with a late second round pick will end up playing overseas or in the G League for a year or two if there’s no space available on his NBA team’s 15-man roster.
While these players sometimes make their way to their NBA teams, others never do. Many clubs around the NBA currently hold the rights to international players who have remained overseas for their entire professional careers and are no longer considered prospects. Those players may never come stateside, but there’s often no reason for NBA teams to renounce their rights — those rights can sometimes be used as placeholders in trades.
For instance, earlier this summer, the Pacers and Raptors agreed to a trade that sent Cory Joseph to Indiana. Toronto was happy to move Joseph’s salary and didn’t necessarily need anything in return, but the Pacers had to send something in the deal. Rather than including an NBA player or a draft pick, Indiana sent Toronto the draft rights to Emir Preldzic, the 57th overall pick in the 2009 draft.
Preldzic is currently playing for Galatasaray in Turkey, and at this point appears unlikely to ever come to the NBA, but his draft rights have been a useful trade chip over the years — the Pacers/Raptors swap represented the fourth time since 2010 that Preldzic’s NBA rights have been included in a trade.
Over the next several days, we’ll take a closer look at the players whose draft rights NBA teams currently hold, sorting them by division. These players may eventually arrive in America and join their respective NBA teams, but many will end up like Preldzic, plying their trade overseas and having their draft rights used as pawns in NBA trades.
Here’s a breakdown of the draft rights held by Atlantic teams:
- Christian Drejer, F (2004; No. 51): Retired.
- Juan Vaulet, F (2015; No. 39): Playing in Argentina.
- Aleksandar Vezenkov, F (2017; No. 57): Playing in Spain.
New York Knicks
- Louis Labeyrie, F (2014; No. 57): Playing in France.
- Ognjen Jaramaz, G (2017; No. 58): Playing in Serbia.
- Vasilije Micic, G (2014: No. 52): Playing in Lithuania.
- Anzejs Pasecniks, C (2017; No. 25): Playing in Spain.
- Jonah Bolden, F (2017; No. 36): Playing in Israel.
- Mathias Lessort, F (2017; No. 50): Playing in Serbia.
- DeeAndre Hulett, F (2000; No. 46): Retired.
- Emir Preldzic, F (2009; No. 57): Playing in Turkey.