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Kai Sotto Goes Undrafted

Jun 26, 2022

Earlier, Kai Sotto has received invitations from NBA teams to play for their Summer League teams after going undrafted on Friday, but his agent wasn’t for it. Joel Bell explains. “I’ve already got several Summer League invites for him. But we’re not gonna do two-way contracts, we’re not gonna do G League, Exhibit 10 contracts,” said the American agent as Sotto’s camp explores his post-draft options. “At this point, the plan is to go to a non-North American team. We could go back to Australia or some other teams in Europe that are interested. He’s gonna develop wherever he goes. He’s gonna have a personal agility coach, a strengthening coach, and do things that he can work on to improve on his game. And I think in the following season, he’ll be in the NBA.” For Bell, this approach allows Sotto to be more flexible as he explores what the future holds for him and not lock himself up to an NBA team outright. Usually, undrafted players, like in the case of Ron Harper Jr. and Johnny Juzang, are signed to two-way contracts – non-guaranteed deals where players can be cut at any point by teams utilizing it as a tryout of sorts especially with the NBA Summer League looming. Bell’s statements were later reversed by Sotto who said in a tweet that he’s open to a stint in the Summer League, but the agent made it clear why he frowns on such along with the ‘draft and stash’ option. “With the two-way contract, you’re not gonna play that much,” Bell said. “He needs to play. He’s not gonna play very much unless there’s a bunch of injuries or something unusual happens. You are the 16th or 17th player on the team and you just don’t play that much. He needs to play. That’s the reason why he wouldn’t do that.” G League contracts, on the other hand, locks a player up to an NBA team’s affiliate with a chance of being called up to the main roster, while an Exhibit 10 contract is a non-guaranteed contract which is basically a training camp invite. Bell bared Sotto has been offered “draft-and-stash” deals where a player will be given a two-way contract while allowing him to play elsewhere, with the team retaining his signing rights. This set-up, however, is disadvantageous to the player as far as the agent is concerned. “Teams say that we’ll draft you but we don’t want you to come right now. We want to hold your rights and stash you to a team outside of the US and that’s a generally bad idea,” he said. Bell used French guard Hugo Besson, the 58th pick who was taken by the Milwaukee Bucks, as an example, saying that the Bucks “now owns his rights forever” while spending the next season with the New Zealand Breakers in the National Basketball League (NBL) in Australia. “He can’t talk to other teams if he wants to play in the NBA. That team has all the leverage. If they don’t have a spot for him, they can say we don’t have a spot for you and he can’t do anything about it. He’s stuck with that team. “To be locked into a team and have them have your rights and they don’t want you now and they may not ever want you is generally a pretty horrible idea.” In Bell’s opinion, Sotto choosing not to be locked up in any deal only boosts his stock for the next season. “By not being drafted by a team, in a year when Kai is a lot stronger and more marketable for NBA teams, he got a lot of people intrigued this year,” he said. “He can talk to all 30 teams. It’s much better to be able to talk to 30 teams than be locked into one team. But Kai went through a good draft process. He showed a lot of things to the teams and he’s going to be in the radar of these teams in this coming year.” I’ll remember this feeling… Kai refused to kiss his NBA dreams goodbye even after being left out in the 2022 NBA Draft. Instead, he sees disappointment as an extra motivation as he promises to push harder in his quest to become the first homegrown Filipino player to make it to the big league. “Of course, the dream is always the NBA so I have to do whatever it takes to get better and get stronger, to improve,” he told PlayItRightTV. “It’s just a speed bump. We didn’t get to Plan A but we got Plan B. This is not a signal for me to stop but to keep on going.” Yet, disappointment is deep in the voice of Sotto after not hearing his name called after all of the 58 picks were named. “I can’t really explain the feeling but it’s not a good feeling. I really worked hard and did my best to get here but it’s what happened,” he said, believing that he did all he could in the workouts he had with eight teams in the lead up to the event. What he can take from this experience, though, was the unwavering support of the Filipino people in his attempt to become the first homegrown Filipino to be drafted in the NBA. “I’m still always thankful for all the support I get from fellow Filipinos and just happy na whatever happens, they’re always there for me,” he said, with the pain of this setback still stinging. “I just feel like I let the people down and I always remember this feeling na ganoon, parang next time, I will do my best. It’s a chip on my shoulder [each time] I step on the court and I believe God has better plans for me and I won’t stop.”  Take it from the fighter… “The Dream is not over” said the People’s Champ Manny Pacquiao in a tweet “Laban lang!! We support you”.

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