An NBA D-League Dilemma: Continuously Forgoing Affiliate Players For Other Minor Leaguers

USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers have offered plenty of 10-day contracts this season, but why haven't they given some of the 87ers' prospects a closer look?

The Philadelphia 76ers are a mess. They have no intentions of winning this season, and are making the necessary moves to put themselves in position for a top draft pick this this summer. With the lack of quality play, the Sixers have given a few D-League players opportunities in The Association.

Lorenzo Brown, Dewayne Dedmon, and Jarvis Varnado have all spent time with Philadelphia, and though they all share the NBADL as their initial stomping ground, none of them originated with Philly's own D-League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers.

The Sixers' D-League franchise has had its share of struggles this season. Obviously the slow start has given way to the team's poor performance --- they currently possess the worst record in the NBADL at 11-31, and are riding a five-game losing streak.

With numerous roster moves and players departing for overseas, the team hasn't been able to find any sort of chemistry. The 87ers only have four players remaining from their opening day roster (Antetokounmpo, Saunders, Pelle, Williams). While other players on the 87ers have earned call-ups with different teams (Kendall Marshall is with the Lakers and Vander Blue earned a 10-day contract with Boston earlier this season).

Note: Antetokounmpo is ineligible to be called-up because he hasn't gone through the draft process yet.

The Sixers aren't exclusively avoiding signing players from their own D-League affiliate, but perhaps their situation is the most perplexing, given the fact that they aren't fighting for a playoff spot.

Gallon turned down an offer to play in China with Liaoning, a six-figure salary included, because he believed he would earn the contract stateside.

It's counterproductive for a team like Philadelphia to develop new talent that may play for them while they rebuild, but then instead choose to sign someone from another D-League team. If guys like Gallon are playing in the Philadelphia system, it makes perfect sense to call him up and see what they can provide at an elite level.

According to a recent report, the 76ers are planning to work out a number of NBADL prospects, including James Nunnally, Darius Johnson-Odom and Kevin Murphy. None of them currently play for the 87ers.

What message does this send to the players down at their affiliate? Even though they work hard, put up terrific numbers (Gallon's averaging a near double-double with 19 points and 9 rebounds), it's still not enough to get a look from their team.

Do the Sixers owe anything to their D-League counterpart? Absolutely not. But will prospects be willing to play for Delaware in the future, knowing they will likely be passed up repeatedly for other players? It could send a negative message to the 87ers, treating its affiliate as an afterthought.

Sixers General Manager Sam Hinkie still has time to offer a 10-day contract to anyone in Delaware, but as time passes, that opportunity seems to be slipping away.

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