Two More Roster Spots
When the new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement kicks in this July, NBA teams will have two more rosters spots to populate. These new roster spots will be called two-way slots, which will allow NBA teams to carry two additional players who will shuttle between the home team and the newly branded “G-League” minor league team.
These new roster spots will in essence allow a team to control the NBA rights of up to 17 players. Teams will still only be allowed to dress 13 “active” players, but it will allow a lot more flexibility in roster management, especially for “G-League” teams in a close proximity to the parent NBA team. Some teams have used their minor-league team to get younger players game action and bring them right back to the parent team throughout the season, however this has usually just been younger players. With two more roster spots, teams can sign older more established players and shuttle them back and forth, as well, as these roster spots won’t require a veteran’s permission like the current structure.
Many teams have already started to reach out to agents about the availability of players for not only their NBA Summer League squad, but also trying to find suitable players for these new roster spots. Considering the NBA will need to field 60 more players, there will be something of a land grab on talent, especially with teams being able to offer more compensation as part of these new two-way deals.
While teams won’t be required to use the two-way contract or the two additional roster spots, there is a sense that most teams are going to use them, especially as a means to get a little injury insurance. If a team uses all of the mechanisms allowed, they can pay a player almost $300,000 a season. While that’s not nearly the same as a full season at the NBA minimum, it’s better than many mid-level international deals, and for players that are still trying to break into the NBA (or in some cases get back in), these new two-way deals will be a better option.
Teams can sign any undrafted players from the current draft pool or any player who’s rights are not controlled by a NBA team to one of these deals.
How the mechanics of all of this will play out remains to be seen on a team-by-team basis, but more roster spots is a good thing, especially when you consider NBA teams have been paying partial guarantees to get higher-level players into their minor league program only to lose them to other NBA teams who sign them as “call-ups” to 10-day or remainder-of-season contracts.
As things stand today the “G-League” currently has 22 teams in play this season. That will expand to 25 teams next season; the Milwaukee Bucks owned team will play in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the Memphis Grizzlies will have their own team that will play in Southhaven, Mississippi and the Orlando Magic purchased their own team and will re-locate it to Lakeland, Florida.
Also, the Atlanta Hawks’ new team will play its inaugural season as the Erie Bayhawks before moving to College Park, Georgia for the 2019-20 season, and the Minnesota Timberwolves will round out the new team affiliations after their letter of intent to purchase the Iowa Energy.
The NBA and its teams are moving closer and closer to a one-to-one minor league system, and at the current pace, that might be completed by the 2019-20 season, if not sooner.
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