C.J. Fair did not declare for the NBA Draft Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean he’s coming back. Yesterday was the NCAA’s deadline, and Fair still has not announced his pro plans. As long as he doesn’t sign with an agent, he has until April 28th to return to Syracuse.
So over the next 11 days Fair will gather information from league people about his prospects, and where he is likely going to be taken. And if he doesn’t believe it’s worth it, he’ll come back to the Orange.
The problem is there’s some buzz building that he’ll be taken in the first round. The Fizz’s Craig Hoffman spoke with an NBA source who believes Fair is a late first round pick, who’s helped out because of his size. While NBA rookie salaries are obviously slotted in accordance to where you’re picked, all first round contracts are guaranteed.
The difference of just a few spots could make all the difference to Fair. If he’s an early second rounder neither his spot on the roster nor his money are guaranteed. You’ve basically been just invited to summer league, and team workouts. But a late first means his contract is guaranteed and he’s at very least going to begin his career on the regular season roster.
Could Fair help out his draft stock by returning to SU for his senior season? No doubt. A standout campaign, and a deep tourney run where he’s the central piece would figure to help him immensely. But passing up the guaranteed money has enticed plenty of players not quite ready for the NBA to jump.
It’s too much of a crap shoot to come out early unless you’re assured of a first round pick. Look at Kris Joseph’s odyssey this year. In June he was drafted in the second round by the Celtics. He had to battle through Las Vegas summer league. In October he had to make the team. He was sent to the D-League in the winter with the Maine Red Claws, then released in January. In February K-Jo was traded to the Springfield Armor, then had to fight for a 10-day contract with the Nets earlier this month. Imagine if he threw away a senior season for that?
Everyone has different financial situations, and sometimes families need the possible paycheck now more than a year from now. But if C.J. doesn’t need the cash is this really the road he wants to risk having to take if he’s selected 31st instead of 30th? From an SU standpoint you hope he comes back. From an individual one, you hope he doesn’t chase a shaky dream and end up regretting it.