Pack Pride caught up with Trevor Lacey on Tuesday to discuss his decision to leave NC State for the pro ranks. It's an enlightening conversation that confirms some of the things we speculated were motivating factors--his age, being worn out about school, etc.
Lacey said he wanted to come back to State to "be a part of something special" next season, which is probably the main reason he waited right up until the deadline to officially take the plunge. Ultimately, Lacey's age, as well as his desire to provide for his mom, pushed him to move on. Here he notes how his age is working against him with the current NBA salary structure:
My time is running out. I'm about to be 24, and if I'm lucky I'll work my way down the road to getting one of those big contracts. If I'm 26 or 27 I won't get a crazy contract if it's my first major deal. If I don't have a number of years under my belt, a resume, I may not get that nice contract... you're not getting that at 30.
Under the current CBA, players don't receive big deals straightaway. For instance, this year the first pick in the draft will earn somewhere in the $5.5 million range as a rookie. The salary escalates over the span of the four-year deal every first-rounder signs, but not dramatically. You can see the breakdown of T.J. Warren's deal, worth $9+ million in total, right here.
Lacey isn't a first-rounder and wouldn't sign anything as plum or guaranteed as the first-round kids, but in any case, the sooner he can put himself in position for a second contract, the better. (This is assuming of course that he sticks in the NBA, which is far from a guarantee.) A player's service time in the NBA also affects how much money he can make on that second (or third or fourth) contract.
Lacey's taken a logical approach to his decision to go pro, and he understands that there's a good chance he will not be drafted. He's got a great perspective on the whole thing, too:
I'm not big on wanting to be a NBA superstar. I'm humble enough to know I'll never be LeBron James or KD. I know that if I make it to the NBA it will likely be as a back-up point guard, rotation player. I know that.
I know I might end up overseas and/or undrafted, so nothing is going to surprise me. I'll be ready for it.
Pretty smart guy. Go read the entire interview.