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NBA Invites with D-League in Mind

Salary cap guru Eric Pincus breaks down which players are getting deals to join NBA training camps.

Eric Pincus



On Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers announced the signing of former U.S.C. guard Julian Jacobs and U.C.L.A. forward Travis Wear.

With Notre Dame forward Zach Auguste, signed on Monday, the Lakers have 18 players on their roster with training camp scheduled to open on September 26 with the team’s annual media day.

Before the start of the season, the Lakers — like the 29 other NBA franchises — will need to prune their roster down to 15 players.

Auguste inked a two-year, $1.4 million minimum contract, of which only $60,000 is guaranteed.

While Auguste, Jacobs and Wear will have the opportunity to make the team, they may be more likely to end up in the NBA Development League, playing for the D-Fenders as affiliate players of the Lakers.

The figures for Jacobs and Wear are not yet available, but it’s become common practice for teams to help subsidize D-League stints with partially-guaranteed training camp contracts.

The NBA’s minor league system is not without its pratfalls.  Once a player clears waivers, they become an unrestricted free agent — able to sign with another team, be it in the NBA or overseas.

If they do sign a D-League contract, the team that can them can assign them to their D-League squad as affiliate players, but a call up back to the NBA can come from any team.

While this may be looked at in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, the current rules afford NBA teams limited protection on the players they’re developing.

Meanwhile, the D-League has grown to 22 franchises, each with a one-to-one partnership with an NBA team.  The holdouts are the Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, New Orleans Pelicans and Washington Wizards — but it won’t be long until that number grows to 30.

Teams can assign up to four players as affiliate players, but the returning rights of a player take precedence.  For instance, J.P. Tokoto was signed by the New York Knicks with a $100,000 guarantee, but if cut, his returning rights would send him back to the Oklahoma City Blue, not the Westchester Knicks.  A player who was in the D-League over the past two seasons will go back to the previous team.

It’s not uncommon, in a case like this, for a team like Westchester to make a preseason trade (in this case with the Blue) for the rights to a player like Tokoto.

The following list includes players with partial guarantees, who may be D-League candidates, along with NBA teams and their minor league partners (which is well-illustrated on the D-League site):

Boston Celtics — Maine Red Claws:  Ben Bentil ($250,000 guaranteed), Marcus Georges-Hunt ($25,000)

Brooklyn Nets — Long Island Nets:  Yogi Ferrell ($100,000), Beau Beech ($45,000), Egidijus Mockevicius ($100,000)

Charlotte Hornets — Greensboro Swarm:  Mike Tobey ($75,000), Treveon Graham ($75,000)

Chicago Bulls — Windy City Bulls

Cleveland Cavaliers — Canton Charge:  DeAndre Liggins ($25,000 — Sioux Falls has returning rights)

Dallas Mavericks — Texas Legends:  Dorian Finney-Smith ($100,000), Nicolas Brussino ($100,000), Kyle Collinsworth ($70,000), Jameel Warney ($20,000)

Detroit Pistons — Grand Rapids Drive

Golden State Warriors — Santa Cruz Warriors:  Elliot Williams ($250,000 — Santa Cruz has returning rights)

Houston Rockets — Rio Grande Valley Vipers:  The Rockets reportedly have deals to sign Gary Payton II, Kyle Wiltjer and Isaiah Taylor, but the deals are not yet official.

Indiana Pacers — Fort Wayne Mad Ants:  Alex Poythress (guaranteed TBD), Julyan Stone (guaranteed TBD)

Los Angeles Lakers — Los Angeles D-Fenders:  Zach Auguste ($60,000), Travis Wear (guaranteed TBD), Julian Jacobs

Memphis Grizzlies — Iowa Energy:  Troy Williams ($150,000), Tony Wroten ($25,000), D.J. Stephens ($35,000 — Canton has returning rights)

Miami HEAT — Sioux Falls Skyforce:  Briante Weber ($218,659 — Sioux Falls has returning rights), Rodney McGruder ($150,000), Stefan Jankovic ($100,000), Okaro White ($100,000)

New York Knicks — Westchester Knicks:  Ron Baker ($75,000), Chasson Randle ($100,000), J.P. Tokoto ($100,000 — Blue have returning rights)

Oklahoma City Thunder — Oklahoma City Blue:  Semaj Christon ($200,000)

Orlando Magic — Eric BayHawks

Philadelphia 76ers — Delaware 87ers:  James Webb ($65,000), Shawn Long ($65,000), Brandon Paul ($155,000), Cat Barber (guarantee TBD)

Phoenix Suns — Northern Arizona Suns

Sacramento Kings — Reno Bighorns

San Antonio Spurs — Austin Spurs:  Ryan Arcidiacono ($75,000), Bryn Forbes ($125,000), Patricio Garino ($100,000)

Toronto Raptors — Raptors 905:  Fred VanVleet ($50,000), Jarrod Uthoff ($50,000)

Utah Jazz — Salt Lake City Stars:  Marcus Paige ($125,000)

The Nets, Bulls and Swarm are expansion teams.  The Suns and Stars have recently relocated, moving closer to their parent franchises.

A number of players headed to training camp, without any guaranteed salary, may still end up in the D-League as affiliate players, like Keith Hornsby of the Mavericks, Wayne Selden of the Grizzlies or Yanick Moreira and Drew Crawford of the Raptors.

The Wizards, who are one of the eight teams without an affiliate, are paying market value to bring players to camp like Daniel Ochefu ($50,000 guaranteed), Danuel House ($100,000) and Sheldon McClellan ($50,000).  Washington won’t be able to hold onto their D-League rights.

Similarly, the Trail Blazers guaranteed Tim Quarterman $75,000, the Hawks guaranteed $50,000 to Matt Costello and the Nuggets promised D.J. Kennedy $50,000.

NBA training camp rosters will continue to fill up over the coming weeks.  The Cavaliers reportedly have a deal to sign Corey Jefferson, which is just one of many pending deals, including:  Andrew Andrews to the Hornets, Trey Freeman to the Pistons, E.J. Singler to the Raptors, Casper Ware to the Wizards and both Kale Tarczewski and Chris Wright to the Thunder.


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Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

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From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

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