What’s the deal with Ryan Richards?


San Antonio Spurs draftee Ryan Richards and Great Britain face Iceland today. Over the past few days, I’ve been keeping track of Richards’ play in the Under-20 European Championships in Sarajevo.

Richards was selected by the Spurs with the 19th pick in the second round of the 2010 NBA draft. He’s currently under contract with the international ball club Gran Canaria until June of 2012.

Richards is only 20 years old and after the Memphis Grizzlies dominated the Spurs in the paint, it’s clear that the team still lacks height in the frontline outside of Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter.

Even though Richards is young, he’s been a beast in the U-20 Championships, just look at his stat line over his last six games.

Quick note: Keep in mind, that his competitors are all 20-year old basketball players.

  • Vs Portugal: 12 points, 8 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 foul.
  • Vs Finland: 28 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocks.
  • Vs Luxembourg: 20 points, 11 rebounds.
  • Vs Norway: 20 points, 3 rebounds, 3 fouls.
  • Vs Czech Republic: 27 points, 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 3 fouls.
  • Vs Israel: 32 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists.

After most of these games, I’ve been reading comments from Spurs fans such as, “Bring him over immediately!” “I know he’s young, but we can let him learn in Austin!” “He’s just what we need; young, quick, and tall.”

Basically, the majority of Spurs fans want Richards in silver and black before, or if, next season begins.

I’ve done some extensive research and personally looked into the situation myself. I’ve decided to put together a question and answer type of format with the best possible answers on the Ryan Richards situation.

Q: What’s the latest on Richards to the Spurs?

A: The last time we heard any news on the situation, the Spurs were in contact with Richards’ ball club before the lockout on May 25th. Our own Jeff Garcia had this quote in his piece:

Gran Canaria Basketball Club and the San Antonio Spurs (NBA) have already established the first contacts to resolve the contractual status of Ryan Richards, English power forward current contract with the organization until June 2012 Claretian and in 2010 was elected to the Texas franchise in the post 49 of the draft.

The aim of the player, is to stay U.S. looking for a spot in the rotation of the Spurs or the staff of the Austin Toros, Team D-League franchise connected to San Antonio.

Garcia went on to mention that Richards would probably have to wait out his contract. Bringing us to today, ever since the lockout began, we’ve yet to hear of any news between Richards’ camp and the Spurs on a possible buyout.

Q: Why aren’t the Spurs in discussions with Richards’ camp right now?

A: This could be because of one or two reasons. First, according to the NBA’s official lockout FAQs, teams are not allowed to sign any players.

but all contact between NBA players and the 30 franchises officially has ceased. Reportedly no communication from team personnel — owners, coaches, trainers, other employees — to the players or even “representatives” of those players, either professional or personal. The disincentive? A possible $1 million fine.

This also means no use of team facilities. No contracts signed. No free-agent shopping. No trades consummated.

Now I know it doesn’t say non-NBA players or foreign players, but the Spurs own Richards’ draft rights. If they were to sign him, then in theory, he would become a player under contract; which would lead to them to a No-communication regulation.

Second, Richards has been very busy at this time playing for Great Britain in the Under-20 European Championships in Sarajevo.

Q: Will the Spurs buy out Richards’ contract once or if the lockout ends?

A: Per the NBA’s lockout FAQs, there may be a chance to get some low-key free agents at a bargain.

Free agency has been postponed and likely will be hurried up after a settlement is reached.

The Spurs might want to wait and use their money on a free agent in the 2011 free agent class. The team still has no idea what the salary cap will be until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached, therefore they won’t know how much money they can spend in free agency until or if the lockout ends.

Q: Can the Spurs sign Ryan Richards and put him in Austin with the Toros if the lockout isn’t over before December?

A: Andrew McNeill of 48 Minutes to Hell tackled a similar issue as he wondered whether or not rookies Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph could be stashed in Austin.

Obviously, they’re eligible to play for the Toros because they are rookies in the NBA. But even further than that, neither has signed an NBA contract yet. Theoretically, they could play for the D-League because they are not part of the NBA Players Union at this point.

McNeill found out that the rookies could play in the D-League, but they may not get assigned specifically to the Toros. It’s a very risky situation. As for Richards, he would be a player under contract with the Spurs so they wouldn’t be able to assign him to Austin because they wouldn’t be allowed to have any contact with him once he’s on their roster.

Q: Now that the lockout is in full swing, does Ryan Richards want to come to the NBA at this moment?

A: This is totally up to Richards. What if his contract is bought out and the NBA cancels its entire season? Then he has to renegotiate or find a new ball club overseas. If Richards’ contract were bought out, he’d be in an uncertain situation trying to come to the NBA at this moment. Imagine giving up your current job for an uncertain one? Would you want to take that chance?

In my opinion, if the team does decide to take a chance on Richards, I don’t think talks will begin with a buyout until after the lockout ends. Right now it’s too risky and uncertain for both sides.

I took on this assignment because I too would really like to see Richards in a Spurs or Toros uniform very soon, but after doing some research and thinking, that idea is slowly becoming a long shot day by day in this uncertain time, the lockout.

(Photo: EuroHoops.com) 

Paul is the lead writer for Project Spurs. Follow him on Twitter for the fastest breaking Spurs news: @24writer. Email him: paul@projectspurs.com.

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