The NBA draft took place two months ago tonight, and when Brandon Ingram signed his rookie contract with the Lakers earlier today, he became the final first-rounder to lock in a plan for the 2016/17 season.
Of course, for Ingram, there was never any doubt that he’d sign an NBA contract and enter the league immediately, but that’s not the case for all of this year’s first-rounders. As our list of draft pick signings shows, three of the 30 players selected in the first round – including two Celtics – will play overseas this season.
The percentage of draftees heading (or staying) overseas is higher among second-round picks, but for those second-rounders, there are options besides entering the NBA or playing international ball — Celtics second-rounder Abdel Nader, for instance, has agreed to sign with Boston’s D-League affiliate in Maine. He’ll earn less money there than he would’ve overseas, but the Celtics will be able to keep a close eye on him and will have a hand in his development as they retain his NBA rights.
When we provided an update on 2016 draft pick signings in late July, five first-round picks and eight second-rounders were still waiting to resolve their situations. Since then, 10 of those draftees have gotten that resolution, leaving just three players whose statuses remain uncertain. They are as follows:
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Daniel Hamilton, SG (UConn)
- Sacramento Kings: Isaiah Cousins, SG (Oklahoma)
- Utah Jazz: Tyrone Wallace, PG (California)
Hamilton, Cousins, and Wallace were all bottom-five picks in the draft, having been selected 56th, 59th, and 60th, respectively. All three were also drafted by teams with their own D-League affiliates. As such, it wouldn’t be surprising if those clubs wanted agreements similar to the one Nader worked out with the Celtics — getting these draftees to sign D-League contracts would mean retaining their rights without having to worry about clearing an NBA roster spot for them.
If Hamilton, Cousins, or Wallace signs an NBA contract, then doesn’t earn a spot on his team’s 15-man, regular-season roster, that team would still hold his D-League rights, but would lose his NBA rights. In other words, Hamilton could be assigned to the OKC Blue, but another NBA team could sign him to its regular-season roster, and the Thunder wouldn’t be able to stop it.
For a team to retain its NBA rights to a second-round pick, it must tender a one-year, minimum-salary contract offer before September 6. With that deadline fast approaching, we should soon find out what the short-term future holds for this year’s final three unsigned draftees.