BOSTON (CBS) – Managing an NBA roster when you make six selections in one single draft can be a tricky proposition. However, the Celtics got some help on that front on Monday when Shams Charania of the Vertical was first to report that Abdel Nader, Boston’s No. 58 overall pick, has agreed to sign with the Maine Red Claws, Boston’s D-League affiliate for the 2016-17 season.
Nader was a surprise pick by Boston on draft night, but the 6-foot-6 wing was selected by Boston for a reason beyond just his talent. Not only did the team like the Iowa State swingman, but Nader’s camp had agreed to be stashed stateside for the season, allowing him to develop in Maine under the watchful eye of Boston’s front office and coaching staff.
A situation like that was an ideal scenario for the Celtics with their overcrowded roster, making Nader a long shot to make the team’s final 15-man roster for next season. Instead, the 22-year-old could get some seasoning in the D-League with Boston still maintaining his NBA rights for next year.
Things got a little bit trickier from Nader’s standpoint however after a strong performance in both Las Vegas and Utah summer league. The former Iowa State standout played his way into the starting lineup and was one the most consistent performers on a team that was stacked with young talent. Overall, Nader averaged 10 points and 2.8 rebounds in just 16 minutes per game in summer league, while shooting an impressive 44 percent from 3-point range.
A performance like that caught the eye of NBA fans, international scouts, and teams around the league as Nader showed off his pro potential. Since D-League players typically earn no more than $25,000 per season, Nader’s agent tried to take advantage of his client’s strong performance by forcing the Celtics to let him compete for a roster spot in training camp this year.
The problem with that from Boston’s perspective is that the team has to tender Nader an NBA contract for him to do that. If he doesn’t make the team, Boston would lose his NBA rights, essentially throwing away any advantage they had by selecting him with No. 58 overall pick.
While Nader’s agent ultimately did not force a tender, there was also the possibility that the wing could have signed abroad, earning potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars or much more than he would have in Maine. That’s the route Celtics first round picks Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic are taking this year in China and Europe respectively. While that would help Nader’s wallet, it would prevent Boston from having their own personnel from developing him in Maine, as they had believed would occur.
Ultimately though, it appears Nader’s reps stuck with the original understanding they had with Boston’s brass on draft night. While Nader’s wallet is a little lighter now, his odds of making the NBA eventually likely increase by sticking in the D-League.
The hope for him is that by next year, there will be a little more room to compete for a spot on Boston’s roster. Perhaps a big trade by Danny Ainge would free up that kind of roster space. In the meantime, the Maine Red Claws should be a formidable bunch with Nader and other Celtics youngsters serving as potential contributors all season.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.