NBA training camp is all but weeks away now, meaning players on partially guaranteed contracts are set to hit the ground running in hopes of competing for those last one or two highly coveted roster spots. What is also means is that D-League teams are getting a little preview as to which youngsters may very well be coming to town soon after.
As per the affiliate rule, an NBA team has the right to cut and subsequently send up to four players from training camp straight to their respective D-League affiliate, if said player(s) so choose to, of course.
But because minor league salaries (the various tiers standing at $13,000, $19,000, and $25,000, respectively) aren't much to write home about by any means, it's understandable why it may be tricky for NBA teams to convince such talented youngsters to remain stateside and play for next to nothing, even despite the exposure they stand to gain closer to home. The money they could very well earn on a more lucrative contract overseas often proves to be rather persuasive.
That's exactly why, however, NBA teams (or at least the smart and savvy ones) have gotten creative in recent seasons. In hopes of reeling in high-level talents to play for their minor league teams, big league executives have been coupling D-League gigs with a sweetened partially guaranteed pact for NBA camp to go along with it. This allows a player to earn anywhere between $50,000 to $100,00 by going through the motions of camp and then heading to play in the NBADL thereafter. This subsequently allows D-League affiliates (standing behind their financially well off NBA parent clubs) to become a little bit more competitive with regard to annual salary.
This, of course, is not breaking any rules. It's obviously not a new practice either. Some may consider it a loophole, but the fact of the matter is this: it's no longer a loophole, because no one sweeps the concept under the rug anymore. Instead, it's a strategy. It's a means of keeping one's D-League affiliate competitive.
It'd be interesting to see, with these latest developments, if the NBA could somehow figure out how to simply funnel these training camp funds straight into the D-League salary cap (since they're being used for this purpose anyway). By not doing so in the meantime, the league is seemingly allowing certain teams to manipulate the money they have available to them on the NBA level to aid the D-League affiliate.