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Report: C.J. Fair is Waffling on His NBA Decision, Why Leaving is Too Risky

Why Kris Joseph vs. Marquis Teague should help Fair decide easily.

My gut was that C.J Fair decided to return to Syracuse after meeting with his family over the weekend. Now Mike Waters of the Post-Standard is reporting that’s exactly what happened.

“The source said that as recently as last week Fair was ready to give up his final year of eligibility and enter the NBA Draft. However, after visiting with his family in Baltimore, Md., over the weekend, Fair had reversed his thinking. He would return for his senior year.”

Now Waters says Fair’s decision is back up in the air.

“But in the past 24 hours, Fair has hesitated to make an announcement because he’s still not certain of his decision.”

Look, I don’t begrudge any player for looking at his financial future, and basing a decision off of that. If I was guaranteed a high-paying job at my profession after junior year, I’d have to think long and hard about leaving the comfort of college too. A legendary story told in the Newhouse School, my alma mater, is of Bob Costas. Professors and students speak in awed, hushed tones of Costas never graduating because he left for the play-by-play job of the ABA’s St. Louis Spirits. An impossibly rare chance for a 21-year old, even in the early 70’s.

But unless you’re guaranteed a first-round draft spot, or need immediate financial assistance for your family, leaving early is fool’s gold. Yes, there’s the opportunity to make money – something you can’t do at school. But you’re also forgoing a final season where you can improve your draft stock (and finish off the degree). And it’s not a check waiting for you on draft night. It’s an opportunity at the check. Fair projects by most as a second-round selection.

Let’s look at Kris Joseph’s journey. His eligibility was over, and he was taken in the second round of the draft by the Celtics last year. He competed in summer league and training camp, then made the team to begin the season. He was waived by the C’s in January, after just two months on the squad. He had to hustle in the D-League, just to get a 10-day contract with the Nets to end the season.

Most NBA 10-day contracts are between $35,000 and $50,000. Good money for Costas with the Spirits in ’73. But it’s rent for the second-to-last pick of last year’s first-round, Marquis Teague of the Bulls. From the Chicago Tribune:

“Teague ultimately signed a deal for 100 percent of his slotted salary in the first year, or $857,000, sources said. The following three years are at the 120 percent slotted salary.”

I like Fair, I like his game, I like his attitude and willingness to do anything. I like that he was the best player for the Orange when it mattered most in Atlanta. I don’t like choosing $35k and the grind of 10-day contracts over almost $4M guaranteed. Sure, there’s always the chance you get hurt senior year. But chasing the instant gratification of a second-round spot is short-sighted, when it’s clear he would be the focal point of a young team next season, and have 35 games to improve his stock into a first-round pick.

Posted: D.A.

6 Comments on this Post

  1. Ed Brooks

    Great story D.A. I’m wondering why he’s waffling now. Does he know something about the NCAA investigation that we don’t? Maybe it’s the school part that’s getting to him, but you’re right. It would be foolish for him to go this year, get taken in the second round, and then end up in the D League. I’ve seen one GM interviewed by the P-S speculate that he could be a lottery pick next year if he returned and continued to improve. I don’t think C.J. has hit his ceiling yet, and in the end I suspect he’ll listen to his family. It would be nice to see this saga come to an end with C.J. announcing he’s returning. I don’t want him to become a cautionary tale for future SU basketball players (or present ones for that matter).

  2. orangeinva

    Just a question…

    CJ is thought to be a 2nd round draft selection right now. With a good next year he will be a lottery pick. Would he not make more in the first 2 years of his 2014 contract vs the first 3 of a likely 2nd round contract of 2013?

  3. So 2…………………..!!!

  4. I think the only reason he is seriously considering is because this year draft class in considered weak and player like Marcus Smart and Mitch McGary have decided to go back to school definitely making CJ move up a few spots.

  5. I think the only reason the “experts” have him as a second round pick is because no one has looked at him closely since he wasn’t on their radar until recently. Just based on recent drafts with Jonny Flynn and Dion, I bet CJ would easily move into first round lock status if he declared. We’ve already seen his athleticism, ability to rebound, and that no one in college can guard him one on one. Once he declares, he’ll tear it up at the combine and in team workouts and shoot up the board just like Flynn and Waiters. Drafts are really unpredictable but a lot of it is based on buzz created once you’ve started the draft process. For another example look at football Chandler jones was projected as a third round pick before he started working out for teams. Ryan Nassib was considered a later rounder by most people until it got closer and closer to the draft.

  6. Carlton

    @Brando, I like CJ but Otto Porter shut him down. CJ has a few flaws. One being he doesn’t have a great handle to break you down off the dribble. His strength is when he’s in the post an can take 1 or 2 dribbles an get to the tin. He plays more like a stretch 4 then a 3. That’s fine in college but he will struggle in the NBA bc he’s undersized to play a 4.

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