One of the main objectives of the NBA D-League is clearly to get most, if not all, of its young guns noticed enough to garner some consideration from big league teams.
The competitive minor system is designed to provide up and coming prospects with a stage to potentially shine on as they hope to earn those highly coveted NBA call-ups.
But if and when these said talented players get the opportunity to move on to greener pastures in The Association, they often leave their D-League team(s) in the dust. After nurturing a promising youngster, and seemingly benefitting from his strong play, minor league teams are then faced with overcoming the void that opens up in their absence.
So with the NBADL trading deadline officially upon us, it's interesting to wonder how minor league teams will go about their business. While each team obviously aims to put forth the most promising or talented squad on the hardwood each and every night, is it worth filling up a team with players that are all on the very cusp of cashing in on 10-day contracts?
There are plenty of talented players in the D-League, but with only so many spots to be had in the NBA, some players are simply left waiting in the wings of the NBADL for a longer period of time, regardless of their existent talent level. Might the skillful players that still lie right below the radar be a bit more worth it for D-League teams to target with regard to a "long-term" commitment?
Each and every minor league team is associated with an NBA team, whether it be through a direct or a hybrid affiliation. The goal is often to acquire players that an NBA may be curious about, or taking a chance on others that have the potential to blossom into contributors at the next level.
But it can sometimes be forgotten that D-League franchises actually still have businesses to run and fan bases (albeit be it how large or how small) to please. Should NBADL teams ever begin to "worry" about the risk of acquiring a talented player for themselves because said player could end up leaving shortly for an NBA call-up?
A couple of teams have taken such a risk or two already this season. Looking to shake things up in an attempt to regain their winning ways, the Sioux Falls Skyforce traded NBADL M.V.P. candidate former Lakers guard Andrew Goudelock in a three-team deal (in January) that saw them receive Mychel Thompson and the rights to Donald Sloan in return.
Thompson is a sharpshooting guard that made some positive impressions on the Knicks during training camp last fall, but at the time of a trade, the Pepperdine product was struggling to find his rhythm offensively. Certainly not a highly sought out player at the time, the trade's appeal instead centered around Sloan, who had just been waived by the Cavaliers. Unfortunately for the Skyforce, the latter signed was quickly scooped back up by the Hornets, where he played out a 10-day contract because ultimately coming back to settle in at Sioux Falls.
It was then that the Skyforce eventually reaped the benefits of bringing such a high caliber player in, as Sloan led the way to Sioux Falls regaining that winning mentality. The guard looked like a man among boys as he stole the show, helping his new team rack up the wins in the forthcoming weeks. The fact remained that Sloan was as talented as they come, however. Clearly on the cusp of something promising himself, the former Cavalier went on to sign overseas just weeks after emerging as a leader in the D-League.
Just as the Hornets proved to scoop Sloan up following his trade to the Skyforce, they're about to become "culprits" once again in a similar situation, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. New Orleans is getting set to sign Terrel Harris to a 10-day contract by Friday. The guard, who won an NBA championship with the Heat last season but was since waived in January, had been recently acquired in a trade by the Erie BayHawks. Such an acquisition (a five player deal) cost Erie resident NBADL All-Star D.J. Kennedy. Though Kennedy himself has been emerging as a legitimate D-League M.V.P. candidate himself, his tweener status with regard to position often seems to outweigh the pros of signing him when it comes time for NBA teams to consider options.
On the other hand, after managing to stick around with the defending NBA champs for parts of two seasons, perhaps Harris is the more big league ready product, despite not exactly filling up the D-League stat-sheet on a nightly basis so far. That said, the Knicks may become more curious and/or desperate for guard help as the season progresses, so perhaps harboring a player of Harris' worth to see if he's again ready for The Association would have been worth it.
But alas, they won't exactly get that chance. Of course, BayHawks executives can monitor Harris' progress with the Hornets to see if he can again hold his own on the NBA level. But the fact remains that like many teams in the past have done already this season, Erie traded Kennedy and other quality players away to reel Harris into town.
With the guard poised to join the Hornets, was the deal a worthwhile one? Such a question undoubtedly goes into the minds of NBA D-League executives when considering potential deals, so it'll be interesting to see how the minor league trading deadline plays itself out.