San Antonio Spurs draftee Ryan Richards and Great Britain face Iceland today. Over the past few days, I’ve been keeping track of Richards’ play in the Under-20 European Championships in Sarajevo.
Richards was selected by the Spurs with the 19th pick in the second round of the 2010 NBA draft. He’s currently under contract with the international ball club Gran Canaria until June of 2012.
Richards is only 20 years old and after the Memphis Grizzlies dominated the Spurs in the paint, it’s clear that the team still lacks height in the frontline outside of Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter.
Even though Richards is young, he’s been a beast in the U-20 Championships, just look at his stat line over his last six games.
Quick note: Keep in mind, that his competitors are all 20-year old basketball players.
- Vs Portugal: 12 points, 8 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 foul.
- Vs Finland: 28 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocks.
- Vs Luxembourg: 20 points, 11 rebounds.
- Vs Norway: 20 points, 3 rebounds, 3 fouls.
- Vs Czech Republic: 27 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls.
- Vs Israel: 32 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists.
After most of these games, I’ve been reading comments from Spurs fans such as, “Bring him over immediately!” “I know he’s young, but we can let him learn in Austin!” “He’s just what we need; young, quick, and tall.”
Basically, the majority of Spurs fans want Richards in silver and black before, or if, next season begins.
I’ve done some extensive research and personally looked into the situation myself. I’ve decided to put together a question and answer type of format with the best possible answers on the Ryan Richards situation.
Q: What’s the latest on Richards to the Spurs?
A: The last time we heard any news on the situation, the Spurs were in contact with Richards’ ball club before the lockout on May 25th. Our own Jeff Garcia had this quote in his piece:
Gran Canaria Basketball Club and the San Antonio Spurs (NBA) have already established the first contacts to resolve the contractual status of Ryan Richards, English power forward current contract with the organization until June 2012 Claretian and in 2010 was elected to the Texas franchise in the post 49 of the draft.
The aim of the player, is to stay U.S. looking for a spot in the rotation of the Spurs or the staff of the Austin Toros, Team D-League franchise connected to San Antonio.
Garcia went on to mention that Richards would probably have to wait out his contract. Bringing us to today, ever since the lockout began, we’ve yet to hear of any news between Richards’ camp and the Spurs on a possible buyout.
Q: Why aren’t the Spurs in discussions with Richards’ camp right now?
A: This could be because of one or two reasons. First, according to the NBA’s official lockout FAQs, teams are not allowed to sign any players.
but all contact between NBA players and the 30 franchises officially has ceased. Reportedly no communication from team personnel -- owners, coaches, trainers, other employees -- to the players or even "representatives" of those players, either professional or personal. The disincentive? A possible $1 million fine.
This also means no use of team facilities. No contracts signed. No free-agent shopping. No trades consummated.
Now I know it doesn’t say non-NBA players or foreign players, but the Spurs own Richards’ draft rights. If they were to sign him, then in theory, he would become a player under contract; which would lead to them to a No-communication regulation.
Second, Richards has been very busy at this time playing for Great Britain in the Under-20 European Championships in Sarajevo.
Q: Will the Spurs buy out Richards’ contract once or if the lockout ends?
A: Per the NBA’s lockout FAQs, there may be a chance to get some low-key free agents at a bargain.
Free agency has been postponed and likely will be hurried up after a settlement is reached.
The Spurs might want to wait and use their money on a free agent in the 2011 free agent class. The team still has no idea what the salary cap will be until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached, therefore they won’t know how much money they can spend in free agency until or if the lockout ends.
Q: Can the Spurs sign Ryan Richards and put him in Austin with the Toros if the lockout isn’t over before December?
A: Andrew McNeill of 48 Minutes to Hell tackled a similar issue as he wondered whether or not rookies Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph could be stashed in Austin.
Obviously, they’re eligible to play for the Toros because they are rookies in the NBA. But even further than that, neither has signed an NBA contract yet. Theoretically, they could play for the D-League because they are not part of the NBA Players Union at this point.
McNeill found out that the rookies could play in the D-League, but they may not get assigned specifically to the Toros. It’s a very risky situation. As for Richards, he would be a player under contract with the Spurs so they wouldn’t be able to assign him to Austin because they wouldn’t be allowed to have any contact with him once he’s on their roster.
Q: Now that the lockout is in full swing, does Ryan Richards want to come to the NBA at this moment?
A: This is totally up to Richards. What if his contract is bought out and the NBA cancels its entire season? Then he has to renegotiate or find a new ball club overseas. If Richards’ contract were bought out, he’d be in an uncertain situation trying to come to the NBA at this moment. Imagine giving up your current job for an uncertain one? Would you want to take that chance?
In my opinion, if the team does decide to take a chance on Richards, I don’t think talks will begin with a buyout until after the lockout ends. Right now it’s too risky and uncertain for both sides.
I took on this assignment because I too would really like to see Richards in a Spurs or Toros uniform very soon, but after doing some research and thinking, that idea is slowly becoming a long shot day by day in this uncertain time, the lockout.
I wonder if Richards and the others can wait until the D Lg draft and then have the players sign independently, as many have done. Many come over from playing in China or Europe and sign in mid season with the Toros, etc. Anybody know why this isn't an option ?
@jojo707 That move is still too risky. Here is what Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside told Andrew McNeill: "There are ways at getting around this, however, as the Oklahoma City Thunder showed last season with second round pick Ryan Reid. Reid obviously was not ready to contribute to the NBA and therefore didn’t sign his rookie contract, allowing the Thunder to keep his rights.
Knowing Reid would benefit greatly from working under Tulsa 66ers coaches Nate Tibbetts and Dale Osborne, the Thunder brass were able to find a loophole to send Reid to the D-League affiliate even though they knew they he’d be gone before the 66ers came on the clock with the 13th pick in the D-League Draft. Instead, Oklahoma City simply had Reid sit out until the 66ers moved high enough on the waiver wire before he signed his contract, allowing him to join Tulsa in time to play in 48 of the team’s 50 regular season games.
This obviously isn’t an ideal way of going about things, and it might even somehow be blocked by the numerous restrictions involving communications between the teams and players. If teams are going to find a loophole to get their incoming rookies in shape, however, that seems to be the way they’d have to do it."
As you can see, it's still a risky gamble as the Toros would have to be a few weeks into their season which starts in mid November to be on the waiver wire and get Richards at that exact time. But even as Schroeder said, it's still unknown what the communication issues are under this lockout. The Spurs are one of the smartest and safest organization, they won't try anything risky to get fined or break the rules in any way or form.
@24writer @jojo707 Will richards playing with toros and for that matter any other d-league team negate his status as a draftee of the spurs? Will the other nba teams be able to recuit him if he plays in the d-league? I do not think so. Take the case of lorbek, a draftee of the pacers. If the pacers didn't cede their draft rights over him the spurs will in no way be able to sign him later. As i see it, even if a draftee plays in the d-league the drafting team retains the right to sign him until a certain time lapses or he is given up/waived by the original drafting team. If this were so, no matter which team in the d-league richards plays, he remains a draftee of the spurs. What could pose as problem is, that team has a playing philosophy/system radically different from the spur's.
@24writer thanks for your answers. Well taken. Just wanted to explore some possibilities for an earlier time frame for r. richards to acclimatize himself for his nba entry. Again tnx.
It's not my theory, it was just a suggestion by another writer. Of course I don't think a team will specifically do something like that. Here's my final point: As far as we know, there are no discussions with foreign players coming to the NBA right now during the lockout. There's only talks of NBA players going overseas. Neither of us know if NBA teams are even allowed to talk about buyouts with their foreign players. Teams are permitted from speaking with the media about NBA players. I know Richards isn't yet an NBA player, but that's as much evidential support that I see right now. Our team here at Project Spurs and a lot of other excellent Spurs sites do a very good job of staying on alert with these matters. I even tweet with Richards specifically who hasn't mentioned anything on the matter. There's a lot of what ifs in the matter, but I'm not the Spurs' front office. I don't work for the league so I don't know what every single rule and regulation is right now on the matter. I just did my best to write the article as a method of explaining (to myself) and others where we are today with Richards and what the future could have in store with him.
@24writer @jojo707 I don't know. But really the reason you gave is stretching to much, Do you mean to say that the farm team of lets say the lakers, will intentionally recruit richards, pay his salary, waste the time of the coaching staff just so richards will learn the opposite of how the spurs play? Come on!
@rtesoro440 @jojo707 That is exactly the case. The Spurs run the risk and partial time wasted of Richards learning another teams system. Then if they were to finally sign him, they'd have to re-teach him theirs or then they could assign him specifically to the Toros. Also keep in mind that some of the Spurs' rivals (Mavericks, Lakers, etc.) have their own D-League teams, if they were to get a hold of Richards, they could purposely teach him the wrong way as McNeill pointed out. It's too risky of a move and then it would also take more time after the lockout ended.
Thank u for a very eye-opener article. It answers some of the questions which i posted on the matter of r. richards case and the spurs. I am glad to hear that the spurs already initiated talks to possibly buy out his contract with the end in view of signing him. In so far as the status of richards and k. leonard and joseph they remain to be draftees as distinguish from nba player and free agent. I take then that a free agent is one who once played with the nba but not rehired and one who was not earlier drafted. The prohibitions called for in the lockout does not cover draftees and those yet to be drafted thus, may have contact with a team and its facilities. Question: Could not a draftee and not yet drafted draftee CHOOSE which team to play with in the D-league? It seems that euro nba draftees could choose which team to play for in europe and elsewhere, Does this apply in the US? Could draftees and not yet drafted players in the US CHOOSE which D-league team to play for? If the affirmative, there is no problem for leonard and joseph and including richards to play for the el toros in the D-league. And, I suppose they will draw salary. This solves the question of richards not drawing salary even if the lockout extends for one full season. If these questions are answered in the affirmative, I think the spurs could now buyout richards contract NOW if they want him that bad.
@rtesoro440 If Leonard or Joseph enter the D-League as draftees without NBA contracts, they will be thrown into a D-League draft and its unknown who they'll play with. This article has more information: http://www.48minutesofhell.com/kawhi-leonard-corey-joseph-spurs-toros-lockout. The same could apply to Richards if he comes over and gets a contract in the D-League.
Bring him over after the lockout!....I would be happy with him producin just half of what he is overseas......but what he's producing now would be fine too lol