NBA fans received great news on Thursday when Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical reported that the league and the Players Association were close to agreeing on a new collective bargaining agreement that would eliminate the possibility of another lockout anytime soon.
Tucked away at the bottom of that scoop were a few nuggets sure to make D-League junkies rejoice. Wojnarowski reports that under this new CBA, there would be provisions for two-way contracts and extra roster spots for players on these hybrid deals, features that push the D-League forward towards being a true minor league system.
Two-way contracts are essentially a no-brainer addition to the system, and probably should have been put in sooner. These types of deals, which Wojnarowski reports will be signed with the NBA and NBADL, would pay players based on whether or not they were in the D-League or on a call-up to their NBA team.
There would be also be 16th and 17th roster spots added for these contracts, meaning teams wouldn’t have to worry about the calculus between keeping a developing player versus a proven contributor at the end of their bench when finalizing their roster at the end of training camps.
For example, say in a hypothetical scenario a team like the Los Angeles Lakers had to trim their roster down to the league mandated 15 players entering the regular season and were deliberating between keeping a developing player or a veteran for the final spot.
Under the current system, the Lakers would have to either keep a player they didn’t think could give them minutes yet but might have longer term upside, or cut them in favor of a more league-tested player and hope the younger prospect would stay with their D-League team. Even if the prospect didn’t head overseas instead of making a pittance in the D-League, under the current system any other NBA team could call them up.
With the changes Wojnarowski is reporting, however, this would no longer be a concern. The Lakers could keep their veteran insurance policy on the roster and let their potential diamond in the rough ply his trade with the D-Fenders, all without having to stress over another team swiping him out from under their noses if he plays well.
If the team decides they want to call him up to give him some run with the big boys, then they also wouldn’t have to think about the added variable of only being able to offer two 10-day contracts per season before either keeping the player for the season or letting them go for the year like under the current system, either. They could pay the player an NBA rate for the games he plays with the team, and he would return to making his D-League salary again if sent back down.
Overall, this is a much-needed change for the NBA and and D-League as they attempt to make the NBADL a more attractive option for players rather than heading overseas to make much more money. This provision doesn’t seem like it would change the players’ salaries while in the D-League much (although it seems likely those will eventually come up from the current A ($26,000 per season) and B ($19,500) levels as the league moves forward), but it would at least provide a more realistic avenue towards making NBA dollars for these players.
Like the eponymous “D” in its name, the NBA D-League continues to develop.
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