I know I don't usually have a participating crowd, but we're going to play it like Goosebumps today (Bare with me: it's good, but it's lengthy).
I'm going to give you four players, two with summaries entailing their career upto post all-star break this year (Player's A & B) and two through the pre-season, about guys who played in the D-League last season (Player's C & D). If you were them, what would you do? Go overseas or hang on for another shot at the D-League. After the jump, we'll reveal who did which, and possibly find the reason to do so.
Keep in mind: this season, the top D-League players are making roughly $25,000 for their five months of playing basketball. Similarly, the majority of these players would make that same amount playing overseas in a top-league during a one-month span. It seems like a no-brainer that overseas would be the way to go, but that isn't quite the case.
Case Study Numero Uno (This season) -- Player A is a 28 year-old, 6'8 combo forward with a great all around game (offense, defense, hustles his ass off) and 52 games, six starts, of NBA experience thus far in his career. After playing all over the globe and being a former CBA MVP with the Idaho Stampede, he came back this summer to play for the Indiana Pacers in the Vegas Summer League, where he played well enough to be their last cut right before the season started. This season, he's played well in the D-League as a glue guy on a good team, averaging 18.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He's 28, he's played overseas multiple times before, and he hasn't had a look yet. Two big name power forwards have just been released from the NBA. Should he stay or should he go?
Case Study Number Two (This season): Player B, a 23 year old 6'9" power forward had a spectacular summer league with a championship caliber NBA team, leading to him getting a contract with the team to begin the season. In 19 games with them, however, he was asked to play a perimeter role after showing a sweet touch over the summer. After failing to perform to their likings playing purely on the perimeter, he was released.
If you'd seen him play in the past, you'd know that he's best in the post, where he can hurt the other team when they don't respect him on the perimeter. He's not the catch-and-shoot player they expected him to be. Regardless, he was picked up by a stacked D-League team, though four games later he was headed to another NBA team on a 10-day contract. After sitting on the bench the duration of the contract, he ended up back on that same D-League team, where he's averaging 14.5 points and eight boards per game. He's had a couple chances in the NBA thus far, should he stick around for one more?
Case Study Three (Last Season) -- Player C, a skinny, 24 year-old 6'10" center, returned to his D-League team that had won a championship the year before, so he has the D-League experience. This season though, he comes in as a starter and in one of the first games of the season, he dominates, scoring 28 points and grabbing 28 rebounds, in one game. On the season, he averages 13.6 points and 12.1 rebounds. After playing the entire season without receiving a 10-day contract, he gets on a Vegas Summer League team, but is hurt and doesn't get much playing time. Should he go overseas and make some money, or keep trying to show the NBA what they're missing while playing in the D-League?
The Fourth Case of Study: (Last season) -- Played D was a second round pick in the NBA. Before playing in any games, however, he was released and picked up by the D-League. In 37 games in the D-League, including just 14 starts, the 27 year-old 6'8 power forward averaged 10.6 points, 7.5 boards, and 3.3 blocks per game. These stats eventually earned him the accolade of D-League defensive player of the year (favorite this year: Brent Petway, Idaho). After those 37 games, he was called-up with two other D-Leaguer's on a lottery team. He finished the season with this team, playing 16 games, including four starts. At the beginning of the following season, he was released by this team. Should he go back to the D-League and hope for a quick call-up or head overseas to make some money?
You'll notice, for these players, money isn't the only factor weighing on their decisions.
Player A -- Josh Davis of the Colorado 14ers is a huge talent and hustle-player extraordinaire. However, he's 28, his stats aren't going to get any better than the 19 and eight he's averaging, and he's acclimated quite well to the overseas culture, as nearly half his career has been on the other side of the Earth. He's not getting any younger, either, and he's two years removed from his last season in the NBA. Davis has made about a million dollars in his NBA career, and probably at least that amount overseas.
Fortunately for the D-League and the NBA, it seems he's going to stick around and give it one more shot. He and his wife just had a child and he owns a home in Colorado, so it's almost a no-brainer for him. I think if Indiana gets an injury, Davis will be the first to be called.
Player B -- Anthony Tolliver, a second year player out of Creighton, played in 19 games with the Spurs this season and had a 10-day with the Hornets, so the NBA knows about him and has seen what he can do recently, so that wouldn't be a reason to stay in the D-League. If he was called-up today, and somehow managed to make it through two 10-day's and get signed for the rest of the season (35 of the 90 10-day's to come out of the D-League have been signed for the rest of the season), he'd make about $120,000. However, if he's not called-up, he'd make about $10,000 for the next month and a half.
I think he made the right decision to go overseas, as I'm sure he's got at least camp-invite already secured for next season, and now he'll be able to recoup some of the NBA money lost when the Spurs cut him.
Player C -- "Too Much" Rod Benson. Benson went overseas to play with SLUC Nancy, but didn't stay for long. Right after the first of the year, Benson showed back up on the Dakota Wizards, hoping to make a summer league team after not getting much burn in France (read: basically zero minutes). He's averaging seven points and six boards off the bench for Dakota.
Player D -- Stephane Lasme. Lasme, as Matt predicted way back when, went overseas to collect a big contract. While I would have thought he'd stay stateside after endling last season with a (sort of) NBA team in the Miami Heat, it was probably a good idea to go overseas, as he's showing it wasn't a fluke. He's currently averaging 11 points, seven boards, and two blocks a game in 26 minutes of action. Very similar to what he did in the D-League, but now in the highly regarded Euroleague.
Tomorrow, I plan to look a little bit more in depth at the 10-day contract situation.