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So...Now What?

(Updated to reflect the fact that I spaced on the whole "returning player" system when I wrote this last night.)

Well, the NBA teams have made their decisions, and there's now a week until the D-League draft.  So what's happening in the interim?  I won't pretend to offer any kind of behind-the-scenes insight, but the short answer is that a lot of people have a lot of work to do and a lot of decisions to make (see what I mean about behind-the-scenes insight?).  The long answer is:


The biggest decision, of course, is whether to play overseas for a higher salary or to stay in the U.S. and give the D-League a shot, to get more exposure and increase the odds of an NBA call-up.  Jack McClinton, Shaun Pruitt and Dontaye Draper are just a few of the players who went with the overseas option after being waived.  But at this point, it's not as simple as money vs. exposure.  Many, if not all, of European and Asian teams already have started their seasons.  While I'm sure those teams would be willing to add some top-notch American talent, they now would have to waive another player to do so and would then have to integrate that player into the team's system on the fly.  That's a (typically) long-winded way of saying that European offers may not be as forthcoming as they were two months ago.

Going to the D-League has it's own variables.  Players who either finished the season with a D-League team, or who left the D-League without being cut by their teams (such as an NBA call-up in the case of Marcus Williams, or going to play in Europe) are eligible to be considered "returning players," and, should they sign another D-League contract, have a chance to rejoin their old team.  Players who were cut from their D-League teams last season or who are playing in the D-League for the first time typically enter the draft pool.  Exceptions to this are players who could be considered "local," that is are from or played basketball in the same state as the D-League team, or who signed their first NBA contract with a team affiliated with that D-League team.  Think Curtis Jerrells in the former case (he's from Austin and played at Baylor, so he'd be local for the Toros) and Garrett Temple in the latter (who's from Louisiana and played at LSU, but whose Rockets deal makes him local for the Vipers).  So many players who decide to enter the D-League must engage (or their agents must, anyway) in conversations with teams to gauge their interest and decide whether to enter the draft or not.

And that's just the players who played in the NBA preseason.  Players who didn't get that opportunity generally fall into two categories: those who know they're being brought back, and those participating in local tryouts.


Picking up from that last thought, D-League teams have been holding tryouts for the past month, usually in multiple locations.  NBA affiliates such as the Toros or 66ers have an advantage in that they don't need to travel all over the place looking for "local" players, but at the same time they have a smaller pool of tryout-ees (which is a word, so don't bother looking it up).  Teams like the Bighorns, on the other hand, have to fly around and hold tryouts not just in Reno, but in Orlando and Sacramento as well.  Then, of course, they have to sit down and evaluate who they saw, and who they might want to try and snag for their local allocations.  (While Flash-centric, this is a pretty good overview of what the process is like for D-League teams.)  And remember, that's on top of their normal player evaluations for guys who are in the draft.  NBA affiliates also are likely in discussion with their, uh, affiliated NBA teams about which players to aim for or try to sign outside of the draft (such as Williams, or perhaps the Red Claws with Mike Sweetney, whom the Celtics seem to have a crush on).  D-League teams must submit their lists of local and returning players to the league, usually at the end of a season (but I would imagine that could fluctuate given who signs overseas during the offseason), and a few days before the draft each team gets to select anywhere from 6-9 total returning/local players (which includes guys from local tryouts).  In this instance teams are likely scrambling to nail down who will be signing D-League contracts and who from their lists will actually be available to them.

Ridiculous Upside

As you can imagine (hopefully helped out by what I've written above), this last week before the draft is a busy time for the league.  There's a lot of activity (I didn't even mention having to set up all the local draft parties!), and we here at RU will try to keep you informed as much as possible.  So make sure to check back with us between now and November 5 to follow along with us.