As Michael Scott once told Phyllis on the office, "blessed be those who sit and wait". Never has that saying been truer than with the case of Deyonta Davis. After sitting to hear 30 other names called and waiting through a full round of the NBA Draft, Davis was finally selected 31st overall to the Boston Celtics in a pick that was subsequently traded to the Memphis Grizzlies.
For a short while, it seemed as if Davis would be the poster child for NCAA players leaving school too early. I even played into this dialogue when discussing whether or not Davis made the correct choice in declaring for the draft. Well, it did not take long for Davis’ agents at BDA Sports Management to ink him a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies that alleviated all the criticism surrounding his decision and proved many of us wrong.
He signed a three-year, fully guaranteed contract for four million dollars. That is the largest guaranteed sum in NBA history for an American-born second round pick. Davis showed the benefit of being selected in the second round, avoiding the rookie-scales; a part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement designed to protect young players and ensure they have a minimum salary teams must sign them for. The downside to that agreement for the players is that there is also a ceiling for the maximum salary players can sign for.
Davis’ four million dollars guaranteed is more money than any picks below the 15th selection are eligible to sign for. Second round picks have virtually no restrictions in negotiations and can sign for as much, but usually as little, guaranteed money as teams and players can agree upon. With his recent signing, Davis quieted the critics and demonstrated that unproven, high-upside players are held in high regard by NBA franchises. The fact that many teams passed up on him, allowing Davis to slip into the second round could have been the best thing for him because that fact clearly did little to depreciate Davis’ monetary value in the market.
Consider that a similar caliber player in Skal Labissiere was selected a mere three picks before Deyonta Davis. Both players were talented, highly touted recruits coming out of high school, but neither had a very successful freshman campaign in the collegiate ranks. This led to the pair facing heavy judgement when they chose to make the jump to the NBA. Fast forward a few weeks, and Davis, the player who fell further in the draft, has signed for $1,568,920 more than Labissiere possibly can.
Additionally, Davis’ agents structured the contract in such a way that will allow him to fully appreciate his worth after his third season. Despite being a restricted free agent, the Grizzlies could have to pay a large sum of money to retain him that offseason if Davis realizes his potential before then. This means that Davis will have the luxury to develop within a good franchise and work on his game for three seasons without the lingering fear of having non-guaranteed money pulled off of the table. On top of that, the Grizzlies cannot take advantage of any provisions that would allow them to pay Davis less than he could be worth after that third season.
So for all of those critics who said Davis should have stayed in school for another year or two, they sure are quiet now. Deyonta Davis has put himself in the position to develop for three seasons, the same length of time he could have spent at Michigan State if he chose to stay through his senior season. Instead of playing in a situation where the NCAA limits his interaction with his development coaches and he runs the risk of becoming a footnote on future Spartans teams, he will earn four million dollars over the next three years. He is in the position where he is seen by the Grizzlies as an asset worth investing the time and training necessary for him, and he will be able to prove all of his critics wrong, if he has not already done so.
Congratulations, Deyonta Davis, for sitting and waiting…the strategy clearly paid off.