On the morning of the July 29 draft, the Sixers sent $2MM to the Pelicans in order to acquire the No. 53 pick, which they used later that night on Western Kentucky big man Charles Bassey. However, a month-and-a-half later, Bassey is one of the only 2021 draft picks who remains unsigned.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported two weeks ago that Bassey planned to sign his one-year, non-guaranteed minimum-salary tender from the 76ers. He hasn’t officially accepted that deal yet, leaving the door open for the two sides to come to a longer-term agreement. However, as Derek Bodner of The Athletic details, the Sixers and Bassey remain at an impasse in their negotiations.
Bassey isn’t upset about being selected by Philadelphia or concerned about a possible lack of playing time behind veteran centers Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond, according to Bodner, who says the dispute between the rookie and the team is “purely contractual.”
As Bodner writes, Bassey and his camp made it clear to teams before the draft that he wasn’t interested in signing a two-way contract, and that he’d be seeking a multiyear deal with a two-year guarantee. Sources tell The Athletic that there was one team willing to meet that asking price if Bassey had gone undrafted, which the 76ers and other teams were aware of at the time of the draft.
While the Sixers are willing to give Bassey a spot on their 15-man roster and not just a two-way deal, they’ve only been willing to guarantee his salary for one season on their three-year offer, says Bodner.
In short, Bassey is seeking a contract that matches the offer he believes he would’ve received if he had gone undrafted, while Philadelphia believes it’s offering a deal that’s more than fair for a player drafted at No. 53.
A multiyear guarantee is rare for a player selected that late in the draft — No. 51 pick Brandon Boston did get a two-year guarantee from the Clippers this year, but everyone else picked in that range, including Luka Garza (No. 52), Sandro Mamukelashvili (No. 54), and Aaron Wiggins (No. 55) signed two-way contracts. Besides Boston, no player selected after No. 43 this year has received a full multiyear guarantee. A year ago, the lowest draftee to receive a two-year guarantee was another Sixer: No. 49 pick Isaiah Joe.
According to Bodner, Bassey has been working out at the Sixers’ training facility and has impressed the coaches and front office personnel who have seen him in action, so he should be in the team’s plans for 2021/22 whether he accepts his one-year tender or works out a longer-term agreement.
If he signs the one-year tender, Bassey would be eligible for restricted free agency in 2022, which would give him the opportunity to bet on himself at that point. If he were to accept Philadelphia’s current offer instead, the 20-year-old would be under team control for two more years, but with no real security, since his salaries for those years would be non-guaranteed.