As the D-League continues to grow and is utilized in a number of different ways by NBA teams, the "draft and stash" option is becoming an increasingly popular and prevalent one. Allowing such players to remain stateside and play, instead of venturing overseas, gives their respective teams a better opportunity to observe their progress along the way.
Last summer, Josh Huestis was a first-round draft selection of the Oklahoma City Thunder at 29th overall. Thanasis Antetokounmpo was selected 53rd overall by the New York Knicks. Each prospect opted not to sign their respective contracts, giving way for the teams to not only retain their draft rights, but also not lose a year on the duration of each rookie scale contract.
Coming out of Stanford, Huestis was more than willing to play D-League ball, especially if it meant he remained under the OKC umbrella for a year while continuing to grow. But as fate would have it, it still may not be his time just yet come next season. The NBA club is not only strapped for cash, but potentially a free roster spot as well.
While most young guns would want to cash in on the experience in the minor league and get paid, the forward is displaying a much more patient approach. "I'm willing to do whatever it is they believe will be best for me. There are a lot of paths to take to the NBA. If that was fine I'd be OK with it as long as I knew it would make me a better player," Huestis said when asked if he'd be willing to give the D-League another go during an interview with the Great Falls Tribune.
Because he came straight from college, the Thunder prospect may be more patient when it comes to starting his career in the NBA. That said, Antetokounmpo is someone who notched a year in the minor league with the Delaware 87ers during the 2013-14 season, while waiting to declare his eligibility for the 2014 NBA Draft.
Though he was selected by New York, the team, much like the Thunder, asked the high-flying forward to spend the campaign with the D-League affiliated Westchester Knicks. After doing so, he's now spent two years here --- it's about time to start getting paid, and Antetokounmpo knows it.
In a recent interview with ESPN New York, the forward's agent asserted that while remaining with the Knicks is a top priority, signing an NBA contract is too, high on the priority list. Should the Knicks not be ready for him just yet, it would appear more likely that Antetokounmpo would entertain an overseas offer (in lieu of spending a third season in the D-League) while he waits.
The situations of both Huestis and Antetokounmpo happen to be more similar than they are different. Still, it's easy to see and understand why each youngster has the mentality they do --- coincidentally enough, each prospective is a completely justified one in its own right. It'll be interesting to see how the NBA teams proceed and how each prospect is affected.