Though some NBA teams reportedly were willing to give Tony Snell a 10-day contract, none were willing to extend an offer for the rest of the season that would have secured his attempt to qualify for the players association’s premium health benefits.
“There’s a keen distinction at play, where a year of service for other salary purposes — such as players’ eligibility to sign two-way contracts or what percentage of the salary cap they are allowed to sign for — typically gets credited by serving just one day on an NBA roster,” wrote NBA insider Jake Fischer. “Multiple teams would have signed Snell to a 10-day deal this week, league sources told Yahoo Sports, if that was all that was required to satisfy Snell’s 10th season. But for the retiree benefits plan, as written in the collective bargaining agreement, there’s a strict requirement for players to be on an NBA roster for the rest of the season by Feb. 2, or for a player to have played 50% of the season’s games.”
Snell has nine years of NBA service time but needs a 10th to make him and his family eligible for the premium benefits. It is especially important as he has two young sons diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
This season’s deadline for him to lock down that 10th year came and went Friday with no new contract from any NBA team. The complex situation has many layers, including the upcoming NBA trade deadline. Some teams reportedly may have been reluctant to sign Snell because it may have limited their flexibility to make other deals.
The 32-year-old remains a member of the Maine Celtics in the G League. He last played in the NBA in the 2021-22 season for the New Orleans Pelicans and has also played for the Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers. The No. 20 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the former first-round selection reportedly has made more than $53 million from his contracts during his time in the league.
His situation drew many strong pleas from around the game that some team would sign him before this week’s deadline. TNT analyst Charles Barkley spoke up for Snell, as did Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon. Former Cleveland Cavaliers big man Drew Gooden also expressed outrage at the way the rule has been set up and said it is time to change it.
Snell, for his part, has been upfront about wanting to get back into the league, not only for what it would mean to play there again, but also for what it would mean to his family.
“Of course, I want to come back and play, but I have a bigger purpose now,” Snell told Yahoo! Sports. “It’s not about me anymore. It’s about my boys.”
Perhaps the fact that there were some teams willing to extend him a 10-day contract bodes well for a possible resolution in the future. Now that his dilemma has become more publicly known, it might give teams time to make the proper accommodations that can allow Snell to get the final year of service he needs.