But let's not debate that as Syracuse Orange fans. Let's debate it as rational people removed emotionally from the situation. Is this a move that makes sense for him as a super-talented basketball player with a family and dreams and all that potential?
Is Chris making the smart decision here?
John Cassillo: Well, yes and no. Yes, because he's actually making a responsible decision for his now-growing family. The mother of his child needs income to support her and the newborn, and Syracuse sure as hell doesn't cover that for him and them. No, because he's probably hurting his earnings two years from now for a quick D-League pay day. Again, get the logistics of it, but this is the rare case where he really WOULD be better off staying a year -- for the sake of his game and his ability to be a lottery pick.
Kevin Wall: I say Yes, with a qualification. I am assuming that someone close to Chris has been informed that there is as close to a 100% guarantee as possible for him to get drafted and signed to a NBA contract. This means someone is going to pay him to rehab, so he's able to provide for his family while getting his body prepared to pursue his chosen profession. While he could certainly return and improve his status, getting back on the court in January 2016 might actually hurt his chances in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Brandon Ross: I think he is making a responsible decision. He realized that he would be drafted for the same reason this year and next year, upside. His ceiling won't change much and while he won't make as much this year, he wants to be able to support his family and he has the skills and once he develops a little, he could be a great player, even if the D-League is a part of that process. In all, his stock for next year was his to lose anyway, so I commend him for coming out now when he clearly has some guarantee of getting drafted.
Brian Tahmosh: My initial reaction was, "wow, that's not a very smart idea," when I heard the news. But then after I thought about it for a bit, I'm not so sure. Unlike MCW and Ennis, who had far more to lose by coming back, McCullough, could very clearly improve his stock by coming back healthy and playing at a high level, and could jump from mid-late second to lottery, pretty reasonably.
But then you factor in the other side of the equation and the risk. Best-case scenario he's back around December. Then a player who relies almost solely on his athleticism maybe isn't quite the same athletic player for the first few months. Maybe he struggles without that "bounce" and his numbers suffer and he loses that wow factor the NBA scouts salivated over. Even if he gets a little bit of that back by March, now the scouts are still pretty worried that his potential has been damaged, and maybe it makes sense to come back for another year healthy. Now you're in year three - borderline old by NBA draft standards - you lost two years of income, and you still have to play your way into the high parts of the draft, and nothing is guaranteed. Not to mention, the worst-case scenario is the injury doesn't heal properly and he never gets the athleticism back, and he's totally screwed. So I say, do your thing Big Fella. If you're being told you'll get drafted, get a paycheck and try to earn your way onto the team after a year of rehabbing. If they're willing to invest in a year lost mostly to injury, they'll be willing to at least give him a shot the next year to play his way onto the team, which is what he'd have to do from college anyway, just without being paid.
Dan Lyons: Only Chris McCullough and his family know what their personal and financial needs are, so I defer to them here. While there is a good chance that another year at Syracuse could have vaulted him into the first round, there is also the chance that he gets hurt again. With his potential, I think it is a good bet that he will be drafted at some point, and a team may be tempted to give him a guaranteed offer in case he realizes that potential. Even if he isn't drafted, a lot of fans seem to be putting down the chance for him to go overseas and make hundreds of thousands of dollars to play the sport. I think most of us would sign for that, if given the chance.
McCullough also has to finish his rehab, and can look at Jerami Grant's first year in the NBA as evidence that the pros is the way to go in that regard. Grant used his rehab to bulk up, and is having a very solid rookie campaign in Philadelphia. We all would have liked to see McCullough back, and there is a chance that he is costing himself some draft position and potential income by leaving early, but by staying, additional injury could have derailed his entire career. We may not know if this was the "right" decision for a few years, but it is probably the responsible one, considering all of the off-the-court factors here.
Sean Keeley: I understand the thinking that he should have stayed. In theory, it would elevate his status and potentially turn him back into a lottery pick. But that "in theory" part is the reason I don't blame him for going. Things don't always work out like we theorize, just look at how Chris's one and only season with SU went. Bet he didn't see that injury coming. There's also the reality check that the draft is about potential, not results. And as Chris McCullough racks up results, that can actually work against him. What if he's revealed to be inefficient in certain areas? All of a sudden, his potential drops. And when your potential drops, that's when you get James Southerland and C.J. Fair and guys like that, who showed the NBA everything they had and left it wanting. Not that they had the same choice McCullough has, but when the NBA deems you worthy, you go.
He'll almost certainly start out in the D-League. And so what? He's an investment at this point no matter what and he'll be treated as such. And worst case, if he can't hack it in the NBA. he can make a solid living overseas. With a wife and baby to support, that's the choice you have to make. Chris's responsibility is to himself and his family and where that's concern, I understand the decision. Is it the best decision? We'll have to wait and see.
How about you?