CHICAGO - The desire to discover where on this green earth Kai Sotto is and what he's up to drove me to spend most of my Sunday making calls and texting messages to my NBA contacts.
At about 4:58 in the afternoon (6:58 Monday morning in Manila), my weary, battery-low iPhone rang. NBA super agent Aaron Goodwin was on the line.
After a spirited exchange of pleasantries I went straight to the chase: "Where is Kai and why isn't he in Orlando?"
"I don't know, Homer. You have to talk to Patty about that," Goodwin replied. By Patti, he meant Patty Scott of East West Private, the management firm that represents Kai.
I found Goodwin's response to be odd. He conveyed a tone that sounded frustrated, unhappy. And since he did not elaborate, I was wise not to press on.
But I didn't need a full functioning brain to determine that these people, once so merry together when I was on a conference call with them last May 2020, won't be sending each other Christmas cards this December.
Having touched a live wire, I redirected the conversation toward Kai's G League Ignite contract. Unfortunately. Goodwin, who has negotiated over half a billion dollars for his clients, was bound by ethical and moral obligations that prevented him from revealing anything.
But another source, who chose to remain anonymous, revealed that Sotto's one-year deal with the Ignite is valued at north of $250,000. Based on this figure, Kai has been receiving twice-a-month payments of at least $17,857 since last August.
"They don't let players know how much each other is paid to avoid friction and jealousy but I can tell you right now, Sotto isn't the lowest paid prospect in the bunch."
And because the deal is guaranteed, Kai won't be docked any pay even if he doesn't show up at the G League bubble and miss all of the Ignite's 15 regular season games and the playoffs.
Could this have emboldened Kai’s camp to yank him out of one league and unto another tournament?
And could the kid’s lack of playing time swayed them to get Kai some reps and exposure through another avenue while also honoring a prior commitment?
THESE ARE TOUGH, UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTIONS THAT DEMAND ANSWERS.
Let me be clear: I have an affinity for acronyms. NBA. PBA. SBP and MVP.
And I love EWP, too.
Look, when EWP summons me to write about a Kai announcement, a venture, or a product he is endorsing, I come running as if EWP means East West Pronto.
Can't they do the same for me when I want to clear some confusion for the benefit of our concerned readers?
It's called give and take. It's not hard to do. It's as easy as a pick-and-roll.
The idea that myself and Spin.ph are Kai haters is silly.
On the contrary, we adore this 7-foot-3 teddy bear so much that we are using our megaphone in a way that would warn Kai of the perils as he walks innocently towards the crosswalk of the vastly exploitative realm of professional sports.
Yes, we have been hard on this 18-year-old kid at times and that's because we chose not to varnish the truth. We cannot in good conscience say that he is NBA ready when the revered ESPN draft board darts him only at No. 99.
But what has been wrongly labeled as our storm of criticism upon him is actually nothing more than just gentle, caressing rain. It's constructive criticism that's parental not parochial.
We support Kai, unconditionally. We have faith in him. We love him.
And it hurts us a lot to see this diamond in the rough getting roughed up by a plethora of poor decisions made on his behalf by adults who don't appear to have his best interests at heart.