Tony Snell remains without an NBA contract as deadline passes

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 03: Tony Snell #21 of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles past Xavier Moon #15 of the LA Clippers during the second half of a game at Arena on April 03, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

One week before the NBA trade deadline, while many teams are keeping roster spots open for transactional flexibility, NBA veteran Tony Snell was unable to find a home for the remainder of the 2023-24 campaign, sources told Yahoo Sports.

The official deadline was 11:59 p.m. ET for Snell to sign with one of the league’s 30 teams for the remainder of the season. That would have allowed Snell to accrue a 10th year of service for the players association’s retiree benefits program — beyond his current single qualification — which would cover healthcare for his whole family, including his two sons, Karter, 3, and Kenzo, 2, who are both diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

For several teams with open roster spots around the league, signing Snell to a standard contract would have carried additional luxury tax implications.

There’s a keen distinction at play, where a year of service for other salary purposes — such as players’ eligibility to sign two-way contracts or what percentage of the salary cap they are allowed to sign for — typically gets credited by serving just one day on an NBA roster. Multiple teams would have signed Snell to a 10-day deal this week, league sources told Yahoo Sports, if that was all that was required to satisfy Snell’s 10th season. But for the retiree benefits plan, as written in the collective bargaining agreement, there’s a strict requirement for players to be on an NBA roster for the rest of the season by Feb. 2, or for a player to have played 50% of the season’s games.

Union members first earn pension and medical benefits after three years of NBA service. Upon completing a seventh season, players such as Snell are then afforded greater plans with premium benefits.

Snell remains a veteran piece on the Maine Celtics, Boston’s affiliate club, where he shot 4-of-6 from distance for 12 points on Wednesday.

With all the national interest that developed from Snell’s story, which included Charles Barkley discussing Snell’s situation on TNT on Thursday evening and the fact various clubs were willing to extend him a 10-day contract, there is optimism that Snell could find himself on an NBA roster at the start of the 2024-25 campaign.