- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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A rule change might aid NBDL players like Oliver Lafayette stick with their training camp teams.The NBA Development League will alter its allocation rules for the upcoming season, potentially opening the door for final roster cuts to stay within that organization, according to a report Saturday by FanHouse.
Here's the nuts and bolts from D-League Blogger Scott Schroeder:
In accordance with the NBA, the NBA Development League will implement a rule change with regard to how D-League rosters are assembled. Beginning this season, up to three players cut last from the roster of an NBA team before the D-League Draft will be allocated to that team's D-League affiliate provided they sign the standard D-League contract.
This rule replaces the previous allocation rule, where players of local significance would be allocated to D-League teams, a rule that was designed to help with marketing but didn't increase the team's bond with the NBA like the new allocation system should.
"The new allocation process is a big change and it will alter our league drastically," said one D-League coach, speaking to FanHouse on the condition of anonymity as the rule change has not yet been officially announced by the league. "Very often, the best players in the D-League attended training camp with an NBA team. It's great from an NBA team's perspective since the players they like, and want a longer look at, can stay with their affiliates."
This, perhaps, is the thinking of the Portland Trail Blazers who have invited 20 players to training camp despite having the NBA-maximum 15 players with guaranteed contracts already on their roster. Despite not having room on the roster currently, the Blazers will probably try to shuttle a few of these players to their D-League affiliate Idaho Stampede in order to keep an eye on their continuing development.
"For the D-League, allocation now becomes as much or more important than the draft," the coach continued. "Teams that have a close NBA affiliation will have an advantage year in and year out, but if your affiliate NBA teams have open roster spots in a given year, they will attract some of the best available free agents so there can be a lot of luck involved."
So what does this mean for the Celtics?
Boston is one team set to bring in upwards of 20 players for camp, already boasting a full 15-man roster, a non-guaranteed contract for Tony Gaffney, and three invites in Stephane Lasme, Jamar Smith, and Chris Johnson (another non-guaranteed contract, Oliver Lafayette, was reportedly waived Friday). If one of those younger players has a solid showing, but not enough to muscle their way onto the regular-season roster, it might help the Celtics hold onto their rights by assigning them to Maine.
The hitch here appears to be contracts. According to the FanHouse report, the players cut from the parent team must sign a NBDL contract and those are regarded as low-paying jobs. A player with NBA potential might find a bigger payday overseas, which means you're unlikely to see the fringe players slide through (especially since other NBA teams might be interested in them as well).
So the new rule, which is aimed at strengthening the bond between parent clubs and their NBDL affiliates, might allow Boston to retain their invitees like Lasme, Smith, and Johnson, but it's unlikely to work anything like baseball, where a veteran might ink a major-league deal and be assigned to the minors.
Even still, it's a good way for those young players to get their foot in the door and injuries could open avenues for them to navigate back to the NBA (where minimum contracts are much more enticing).
The new rule does make you wonder about the Celtics and Lafayette, who was reportedly waived Friday. He's the perfect example of a player who might not make an NBA roster and settle for an NBDL gig (where he spent the past two seasons), but it might behoove him to stick with the Celtics after spending the past five months with the team.
10dKevin Pelton and Chad Ford