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I'm asking this question because of my ignorance of the fine aspects of drafts.

Suppose that I'm playing basketball in college (I don't know if the specific sport matters; let's stay with basketball) and I'm good enough to have a decent stab at getting into the NBA. I declare draft eligibility, and on draft night, the Phoenix Suns (say) pick me. Suppose now that I just don't want to play for them, for whatever reason (for example, because it would require me to live in Phoenix long term). Do I have a right to pass on their offer?

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This depends on what you mean by "pass on their offer". Nothing requires you to sign any sort of contract with Phoenix, so you're perfectly free to ignore the fact that Phoenix have drafted you and go and get a job doing something else entirely (including, if you happen to be good enough, a different professional sport).

However, what you can't do is to sign a professional basketball contract with an NBA team which is not the Phoenix Suns - in the typical language, they own your "draft rights" and have the exclusive right to sign you to an NBA contract for (normally) the next year. The NBA Salary Cap FAQ details the situations in which the Suns could own your rights for more than a year - perhaps the most significant is if you play professional basketball outside the NBA, in which case they own your rights until one year after you finish playing professional basketball anywhere in the world.

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  • This. It's similar in the NFL, and the Manning family generated a mild controversy when it looked like the sub-par San Diego Chargers would draft Eli (and they did, before trading him on the same day to the New York Giants)
    – KeithS
    Mar 13, 2015 at 0:34
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Well the player (in this scenario you so we'll use you going forward) has options.

1 and most importantly, declare quite loudly which teams you wish Not today for, as mentioned it may not deter the team from drafting you, but they will be aware you will why to be traded. It also alerts teams lower down the draft order (the giants/chargers trade took mere hours, both teams were negotiating as the draft unfolded, Kobe didn't want to go to Charlotte, ironically Charlotte never wanted him they just had a pick before L.A and the trade was struck before the draft (not sure if that's strictly legs but effectively the Lakers paid the hornets to draft Kobe).

2 hope you're slightly good at another sport, NFL players usually have baseball, whilst the suns would your NBA rights they cannot stop you being drafted elsewhere! But if basketball is your passion hopefully the thought of losing a draft pick makes the suns trade you. 3 college ball for an extra year I your stats and redraft the following year

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If I am correct, you have to join the team you get picked for, but can immediately declare a trade to a different team.
I'm going to set an example using the NFL when Eli Manning got picked by the San Diego Chargers and the New York Giants picked up Philip and they did a trade. People/teams usually already know who they are picking as in the Ball brother getting picked for the Los Angeles Lakers also known as teams that are interested. But most players are fine with being on anytime since there making that money and are in the NBA now with fame and everything. But if it ends up being that you can't trade I'm sure you can just quit or keep trying to trade teams since NBA team WILL NOT require you to stay playing for 1 team and it's a choice if you want to play for that certain team.

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    Players cannot "declare a trade" - the team owns the rights to the player, and are the only one than can make a trade. Players can try and persuade their team to trade them, but that's a very different thing.
    – Philip Kendall
    Jun 22, 2017 at 21:11
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    This answer is pretty much all incorrect. Teams trade Players, Players don't trade Teams. Most players are not making all that much money, early in their careers. Most players are simply not all that famous. The NBA team WILL require a player to play within their contract, or they will be in breach of it (the contract). It's NOT a choice to play for a different team, if you are unhappy with your current one, unless the Teams desire a trade.
    – CGCampbell
    May 17, 2021 at 14:14

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