Players that spend time in the NBA Development League are often faced with a crucial decision. Should they spend time in the NBADL, playing in front of team executives in America for little compensation, or take their talents overseas where the money is handed over at a much larger scale? The chances of getting called up while playing in the D-League are greater, since players are spending time under the affiliate of an NBA team, but life is broader than basketball for most of these athletes.
The games watched on ESPN and TNT feature athletes who can make a living playing basketball, while the D-League hosts players who one day hope to at some point soon do the same exact thing. Many of these athletes have to find part-time jobs once the season is over in order to take care of their families. So, it's a balance-beam between players who chase money overseas while hoping to come back in the summer and catch on with an NBA squad, and players who take a low salary in expense for a greater chance at a call up.
This is where former Oklahoma Sooner Romero Osby comes into the picture. Osby was first-team All Big 12 during his senior season at Oklahoma, but was considered a tweener due to his 6'8", 240 pound frame at the forward position. He was drafted by the Orlando Magic in the 2013 NBA Draft with the 51st pick, nine selections from being undrafted. Like many second-round selections, the contracts are not guaranteed and it's often an uphill battle to reach and stick in The Association. For every Gilbert Arenas or Manu Ginobili, there are hundreds of Bill (now "Henry") Walkers or Darnell Jacksons, who are two former second-round picks that have otherwise faded into the background.
Osby signed a multi-year deal with the Magic in September of 2013 after averaging 11 points and 4.4 rebounds through five Summer League games with the Magic. Unfortunately, he was waived and became a free agent in late October before ever suiting up for the Magic. He would be allocated to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in November, before being traded to the Maine Red Claws a few days later.
Playing with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League presented Osby's first real opportunity to prove himself since his days of being a Sooner. The forward averaged 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds on 45% shooting from the field and 42% from deep in Maine. He soon after, however, suffered a major shoulder injury, which forced the 24 year old to sit out the remainder of his rookie campaign. The injury was extremely unfortunate, because people watching Osby believed that he had been flourishing and was close to a potential NBA call up. Red Claws coach Mike Taylor stated that Osby was "very close" to the NBA, also adding in that, "if there is a need by an NBA team, I believe he'll be right on their radar."
Even with his play in the NBADL, Osby was weighing playing overseas when the documentary "Summer Dreams" (which profiled Osby and other 2013 rookies in similar situations) was being filmed. He had the following to say:
"At the time (of the documentary), I viewed going overseas as a bad thing because I didn't want to give up on my NBA dream. But that's really the case anymore. For me, the NBA is just a matter of time. But I'll feel fortunate if I get a chance to play basketball anywhere. Right now I'm in a situation where I can't play due to my injury. I'll never take an opportunity for granted."
Adversity struck again with the shoulder injury, but Osby turned up again with the Orlando Magic during 2014 NBA Summer League in Orlando after successfully recovering.
Osby only appeared in three games for the Summer Magic, putting up 8.7 points in 22.9 minutes per game. It wasn't anything flashy or as productive as his performance the summer before, but that's not what Osby's game is marked for. He's the player that does all the little things on the court that leads to victories; he harnesses the ever elusive intangibles that players either have, or don't.
With that being said, Osby was faced with a decision at the end of Summer League. Should he try to grind his way to the NBA in the D-League or chase a lucrative contract overseas? With a family in mind, Osby chose the latter.
The young gun signed a contract with Le Mans Sarathe of the French League for the next season. He will be making enough money to take care of his family.
As for his NBA dreams? In this Instagram post, Osby declared that, "The NBA is and always will be my dream but everyone's path is different." Those words couldn't have rang more true, especially to someone that has climbed through adversity since being drafted in 2013. Osby might be gone for next season, but expect to see him back next summer as he continues to makes his dream of playing in the NBA a reality.