NBA legend Charles Barkley recently made a heartfelt plea on behalf of Tony Snell, urging any NBA team to sign the 32-year-old player so that he would be eligible for crucial medical benefits for his two sons diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
The plea was made during a segment on ‘The Today Show’, where Barkley shared Snell’s story and the importance of providing healthcare benefits for the player and his family. Snell, who revealed in June 2023 that he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of 31, expressed the need for a 10th year of NBA service to qualify for the premium medical plan offered by the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) upon retirement.
In order to meet the eligibility criteria, Snell would need to be signed to an active roster by Friday, as per the collective bargaining agreement. Barkley passionately appealed to NBA teams to consider signing Snell so that his two autistic children could receive the best medical care possible.
Snell, who was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 2013, has played for various NBA teams throughout his career including the Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, and Portland Trail Blazers. He is currently representing the Maine Celtics, the G League affiliate of the Boston Celtics.
The NBPA offers different levels of health insurance coverage based on the player’s years of service in the league. With seven or more years of service, players receive a premium plan with lower deductibles and co-pays. However, reaching the milestone of 10 years of service would provide Snell and his entire family with the premium health insurance plan.
While several NBA teams, including the Celtics, Lakers, and Trail Blazers, have open roster spots that would allow them to sign Snell without cutting any players, the financial implications for some teams may pose a challenge. In such instances, the team would need to pay a tax on Snell’s salary, making it more expensive to sign him despite his actual salary.
Snell’s situation highlights the ongoing need for support and assistance for players with unique circumstances. Former NBA guard Kenny Smith suggested that the league consider making an exception in Snell’s case, given the importance of providing adequate care for his children.
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