This summer, more NBA D-League athletes are keeping their minds open to signing international deals.
There's only so much waiting one can do. Should a player have a solid season in the D-League and still not earn a call-up, how much longer is appropriate to wait it out? How can they gauge just how close to breaking into the NBA they really are?
Regardless of what sport an athlete plays, it makes sense that they want to capitalize on any recent success. Though the D-League will always provide the best opportunity for the most exposure to NBA executives, will players want to continue logging minutes in the minors as they aim to prove themselves over and over? At what point is it all enough?
With all of these questions clouding their minds, it makes sense that players are increasingly tempted and/or intrigued by what international teams can offer. An invite to NBA training camp is sometimes not enough, simply because should they ultimately not make the cut, players will be left to venture back to the D-League like the promising previous season never happened. What's more, those offers to go play overseas likely won't be around any longer through the weeks of September.
Thus, there's plenty for said athletes to think about when given little to no guarantees as to where they'll end up next season. That's why, however, Jeremy Tyler's new partially guaranteed deal with the Knicks, is not only a refreshingly surprising sight, but perhaps also an unprecedented one at that.
After spending NBA Summer League in Las Vegas with the Knicks, Tyler showed plenty of promise due to his physical nature on both ends of the court. On offense, he can fight his way inside to get to the basket. Defensively, he's certainly one to pester opponents down low as well. What's more, he also turned some heads in Sin City due to a somewhat sweet mid-range jumper. There's plenty to be intrigued about.
Still, upon the Knicks re-signing Kenyon Martin later in the summer, it appeared,then, less likely that Tyler would be offered some type of contract. He would have been an interesting replacement for Martin, should the veteran not have returned. With both players joining New York's already crowded front court, are there truly enough minutes to go around?
Probably not. Tyler aside, the Knicks have a bevy of other higher profile players across the frontline. Thus, the now former Santa Cruz Warriors' big man will simply have to wait his turn.
Of course, NBADL players hear such a phrase/suggestion all the time. That said, Tyler's opportunity with the Knicks may ironically enough, come sooner rather than later.
The 22 year old may not be Coach Mike Woodson's first choice off a bench that includes the likes of Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrea Bargnani, and Martin, but what happens when the coach doesn't have such resources?
Clearly an older and rather injury-prone squad, even the harshest of critics couldn't have predicted exactly just how badly the injury bug would bite New York last season. Thus, while Tyler's opportunity may not stare him in the face on October 30th, it'll come eventually. Such depth was proven to be necessary for the Knicks.
With all this in mind, Tyler finds himself grasping what's become a unique and/or scarce opportunity among NBADL players this summer. On an elderly squad craving some youth, perhaps New York needs Tyler as much as he needs them. They can benefit from what the other stands to gain.
Signing with a team In need of some insurance and with one eye somewhat squinted at the future, an offer in the form of (at least a partial) guarantee has come Tyler's way. A two-year pact, New York will have the option to guarantee the final year of his contract next summer.