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 viewed as top 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.
This week, we’re taking 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 Southwest teams:
- Petteri Koponen, G (2007; No. 30): Playing in Spain.
- Stanko Barac, C (2007; No. 39): Last played in Italy.
- Renaldas Seibutis, G (2007; No. 50): Playing in Lithuania.
- Satnam Singh, C (2015; No. 52): Playing in G League (Texas Legends).
- Venson Hamilton, F (1999; No. 50): Retired.
- Serhiy Lishchuk, F/C (2004; No. 49): Last played in Spain.
- Axel Hervelle, F (2005; No. 52): Playing in Spain.
- Sergio Llull, G (2009; No. 34): Playing in Spain.
- Jon Diebler, G (2011; No. 51): Playing in Turkey.
- Marko Todorovic, F/C (2013; No. 45): Playing in Russia.
- Alessandro Gentile, G/F (2014; No. 53): Playing in Italy.
- Isaiah Hartenstein, F/C (2017; No. 43): Playing in G League.
- Wang Zhelin, C (2016; No. 57): Playing in China.
New Orleans Pelicans
- Latavious Williams, F/C (2010; No. 48): Playing in Spain.
San Antonio Spurs
- Robertas Javtokas, C (2001; No. 55): Retired.
- Viktor Sanikidze, F (2004; No. 42): Last played in Greece.
- Sergei Karaulov, C (2004; No. 57): Playing in Russia.
- Erazem Lorbek, F/C (2005; No. 46): Last played in Italy.
- Giorgos Printezis, F (2007; No. 58): Playing in Greece.
- Adam Hanga, G/F (2011; No. 59): Playing in Spain.
- Nemanja Dangubic, F (2014; No. 54): Playing in Serbia.
- Nikola Milutinov, C (2015; No. 26): Playing in Greece.
- Olivier Hanlan, G (2015; No. 42): Playing in G League.
- Cady Lalanne, F/C (2015; No. 55): Playing in Italy.
- Jaron Blossomgame, F (2017; No. 59): Playing in G League.