Former Cavs big man furious over 10-year rule impacting Tony Snell: ‘We risk our bodies and minds for years’

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Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The situation surrounding Tony Snell and his attempt to complete the necessary NBA service time to qualify for premium health benefits from the players association has drawn strong reactions from all around the league.

While most were hoping for a way to get Snell the benefits by getting him back into the league this season, former Cleveland Cavaliers big man Drew Gooden expressed some outrage about the rules and requirements themselves.

Snell has nine years of NBA service but needs a 10th to qualify for the union’s premium medical plan that would cover his entire family. He has two young sons diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

The 32-year-old is currently a member of the Maine Celtics in the G League. He last played in the NBA for the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2021-22 season. A first-round pick (No. 20 overall) in the 2013 NBA Draft, he also has played for the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers.

Considered a good shooter with a career rate of 39.4 percent from 3-point range, he reportedly has made more than $53 million from his contracts during his time in the league.

He needed to be signed to an active roster by Friday to gain the service time for this season, but that deadline reportedly passed with no such offer.

“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,” NBA insider Jake Fischer wrote. “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.”

Snell’s plight has drawn reactions from many connected to the league hoping he can find a solution. Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon recently called for some NBA team to sign Snell prior to the Feb. 2 deadline, as did TNT analyst Charles Barkley.

With the NBA trade deadline coming up next week, teams reportedly may have been hesitant to give up roster flexibility in order to sign Snell. But with some teams reportedly willing to give him a 10-day contract, they may believe he is still capable of playing in the NBA.

Perhaps that will carry over to next season, allowing him to land on a team for the 2024-25 campaign to satisfy the requirements for the health insurance he and his family are seeking.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.