How Will The NBA Lockout Affect The D-League?

No, the lockout won't result in David Kahn holding D-League press conferences. I just like using this picture.

The looming NBA lockout is likely to no longer be looming in less than 24 hours -- unless some sort of miracle happens, of course. The NBA players union and the league's owners would have to close an enormous gap between the two side's collective bargaining agreement proposals when they meet on Thursday in Dallas in order to avoid at least a temporary work stoppage.

While there are many more important things to worry about regarding the lockout, I assume the readers of Ridiculous Upside have questions about what an NBA lockout would do to the NBA Development League so that will be the topic of today.

In short, the D-League will not be affected as the league has approached all questions with a 'business as usual' answer. The games will be played, the players will be paid and Ridiculous Upside's readership might even be made as the NBA's official minor league could be the highest level professional basketball in America if the two sides aren't able to come together in time for the regular season.

Unfortunately, the D-League's talent level probably will be down next season.  If the lockout lasts too long, more players on the fence will opt for Europe's higher salaries considering the biggest upside of the D-League -- earning an NBA call-up -- won't be a possibility.

Some top-flight players might be willing to gamble, however, as the competition will be less once the NBA's regular season actually does begin. Once players head to Europe, just like draft picks, the teams aren't going to want their imports leaving for America without some sort of compensation so it'll be an interesting decision to make if the NBA lockout lasts through August.

The above is what I'm projecting would happen under the current collective bargaining agreement, by the way, as it's pretty difficult to believe the two sides are discussing many things regarding the Development League considering the large amount of money that still needs to get figured out.

However, Tim Donahue over at Eight Points, Nine Seconds has put together a mock CBA that does mention a couple of changes to the current D-League system.

NBA Development League
In order to encourage use of the NBADL, I propose the two following items:

  • Each team will be required to "sponsor" at least two players at NBADL standard salary rates, which are $12,000, $18,000, or $24,000 per season.  The team will hold the "rights" of these players for one season, renewable, but another team can claim them simply by reimbursing the first team for the salary amount.   This will not count against either the team's cap figure or the Players' BRI split.  Update: The "assigned player" would not count towards the 15-man roster limit.
  • If a team assigns a first- or second-year player to their NBADL affiliate for the entire season, they may exempt up to $2 million of that player's salary from their cap figure.  If that player is brought up to the parent team at any point during that season, his entire salary counts against the cap.

For the record, and not that it's a large difference, but I believe the current salary structure is $13,00, $19,000 and $25,500 per season (plus housing and insurance).

If an NBA team was able to acquire the rights to a couple of players in the D-League without having him count as a roster spot, as Donahue's agreement proposes, it might encourage a few more NBA teams to do what they can to keep the top prospects playing in the D-League rather than overseas (as insurance for injuries, etc.).

Under the proposed system, a team could conceivably sign a player to a $50,000 guaranteed contract with an understood agreement that the player would be cut in training camp and then head to the team's Development League squad as an 'A' contract player -- effectively tripling his salary to keep him stateside.

This isn't anything different than what the Oklahoma City Thunder did for rookie point guard Tweety Carter this past season, by the way, aside from the fact that I proposed that the Thunder double the guaranteed portion as they'd now have the guarantee no other NBA team could call-up Carter from their D-League affiliate Tulsa 66ers.

As the previous three paragraphs indicate, the D-League could see some substantial changes if the lockout occurs and the players and owners have time to go into the more minute details. As it stands currently, however, ESPN's Andrew Brandt indicates there are currently no major changes being discussed regarding the D-League.

756 words later and the only real conclusion I've come to is the D-League will play a full slate next season. Hooah!

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