What we know about Tony Snell and NBPA retirement health benefits

Tony Snell caught Charles Barkley’s attention.

On Thursday, Barkley spoke on “Inside the NBA” about Snell, asking teams to sign the 32-year-old so he can receive his 10th year of NBA service. This means Snell can qualify for the NBPA’s premium medical plan, providing healthcare benefits for him and his family. According to the collective bargaining agreement, Friday is the last day this season that a team could sign him for Snell to qualify for his 10th year of service, earning premium retirement benefits.

Snell said on “The Today Show” in June 2023 that he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at 31 years old. His sons, Karter and Kenzo, are also diagnosed with autism.

“I hope one of you guys signs Tony so his two autistic kids can great medical care,” Barkley said, in response to a story about Snell’s situation in which Snell spoke to Yahoo Sports.

Snell entered the league in 2013 when the Chicago Bulls drafted him with the 20th pick in the NBA Draft. He’s played for the Bulls (2013 to 2016), Milwaukee Bucks (2016 to 2019), Detroit Pistons (2019 to 2020), Atlanta Hawks (2020 to 2021), Portland Trail Blazers (2021 to 2022) and the New Orleans Pelicans (2022). Snell is currently with the Maine Celtics, the G League affiliate of the Boston Celtics.

The NBPA voted unanimously to give funded health insurance to retired players with at least three years of service in July 2016.

What happens if a team signs Snell? What are the benefits as a player with 10 years of service compared to what Snell has now? And which teams have the roster spots to sign Snell?

Below are the answers to those questions:

What are the NBPA rules for its retiree benefits program?

If a player has three or more years of service, they are eligible to receive health insurance for as long as the NBA and NBPA continue to agree to it into the CBA. This covers medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage and reduced out-of-pocket costs for the player and his family, per the policy.

For seven or more years of service, the player gets a premium plan that has lower deductibles and lower co-pays, per the NBPA policy.

If you have 10 or more years of service, the player gets that premium plan for himself and his family.

Because Snell has played nine seasons (seven or more years of service), he is currently on a health insurance plan that covers medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage. Snell is among players with three or more years of service time (beginning at the 2001 season) who have access to a $150,000 health reimbursement arrangement, per the CBA. That HRA was unrestricted but then capped in the 2017 CBA at $150,000 but no player had to give money back if they were above it. That money is then invested until it is used. Annual contributions to the HRA were also capped at $30,000 in 2017. For a player with that many years of service, the amounts contributed to his account should total over $200,000.

If Snell does get signed, he gets the premium health insurance plan, where he and his whole family — including his two kids — are covered.

What teams have a roster spot available?

The Celtics, Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards are teams with open standard contract spots available to sign Snell without having to cut anyone.

The Celtics, Warriors, Heat and Lakers would have to pay some multiple of a tax on Snell’s salary in actual dollars. For example, it’s approximately six times the tax for the Warriors, approximately four times for the Celtics and approximately two times for the Lakers. The cost for these teams to sign Snell is higher than the actual salary.

Four of Snell’s past coaches are current NBA coaches: Tom Thibodeau (Knicks), Jason Kidd (Mavericks), Chauncey Billups (Blazers) and Willie Green (Pelicans).

Where is Snell playing this season?

The Maine Celtics acquired Snell on Jan. 27, 2023. A well-liked player, Snell played 19 games for Maine in 2022-23, averaging 10.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game on 43.2 percent shooting from the floor.

After the Warriors held out a workout for Snell in August, he returned to Maine in October. He played fewer games in 2023-24 and his numbers dropped. Through 14 games, Snell averages 4.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.6 assists on 35.7 percent shooting from the field.

Why the trade deadline complicates Snell’s chances

With the trade deadline on Feb. 8, it complicates Snell’s chances of getting signed. Teams often need empty roster spots to execute 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 trades. They are less likely to sign him and inherit the contract value if they need to cut him to complete a trade by Feb. 8. Once he is signed, he can’t be traded as the contract lasts through the remainder of the season.

If the health insurance deadline were next Friday, it would’ve been simpler for teams to sign Snell as there might’ve been more open spots from the last-minute trades for teams to complete their respective rosters.

— The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov contributed reporting to this story.

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(Photo: Stephen Lew / USA Today)

First appeared on theathletic.com

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