According to the "Internets" -- NBA D-League (NBADL)

When I cruise the NBA blogosphere, I notice that many of the details surrounding the NBA D-League (NBADL) are often misunderstood or completely unknown. This is my endeavor to compile all the relevant knowledge I've accumulated (from internet research) on this mysterious, aloof league.

Updated 09.25.2014

What is the general landscape/team situation in the NBADL now?

Although the NBADL is trending towards a complete one-to-one, NBA-to-NBADL minor league, it is currently comprised of only 18 NBADL teams that service 30 NBA teams. However, 17 of the 18 NBADL teams are indeed exclusive one-to-one partnerships, leaving 1 lone NBADL team to service the remaining 13 NBA teams.

This is the current team breakdown:

NBA Team NBA Division NBADL Team NBADL Division
Cleveland Cavaliers Central Canton Charge East
Philadelphia 76ers Atlantic Delaware 87ers East
New York Knicks Atlantic Westchester Knicks East
Boston Celtics Atlantic Maine Red Claws East
Fort Wayne Mad Ants East
Orlando Magic Southeast Erie Bay Hawks East
Detroit Pistons Central Grand Rapids Drive East
Miami Heat Southeast Sioux Falls Skyforce Central
Memphis Grizzlies Southwest Iowa Energy Central
Oklahoma City Thunder Northwest Oklahoma City 66ers Central
Dallas Mavericks Southwest Texas Legends Central
San Antonio Spurs Southwest Austin Toros Central
Houston Rockets Southwest Rio Grande Valley Vipers Central
Utah Jazz Northwest Idaho Stampede West
Sacramento Kings Pacific Reno Bighorns West
Phoenix Suns Pacific Bakersfield Jam West
Los Angeles Lakers Pacific Los Angeles D-Fenders West
Golden State Warriors Pacific Santa Cruz Warriors West

Interestingly enough, there are 2 NBA teams who were once in one-to-one partnerships but no longer now. They would be the Brooklyn Nets and Portland Trailblazers.

NBA-owned, one-to-one NBADL teams: 7
Non-NBA owned, one-to-one NBADL teams: 10
Independent NBADL teams: 1

Wait, how can one single NBADL team handle the requests for 13 NBA teams?!?

Starting the 2015 season, the NBADL established the "flexible assignment system". This was presumably established due to the expected lack of roster spots for the lone independent Fort Wayne Mad Ants to accommodate players from all 13 NBA teams.

The assignment system is triggered when a non-one-to-one affiliated team (which currently is only the Fort Wayne Mad Ants) is already at maximum capacity for NBA assignees. It works as follows:

  1. One-to-one affiliated NBADL teams can volunteer to accept surplus players from other NBA teams. The NBA team assigning the player then gets to choose which of these teams their player will go to.
  2. If there are no one-to-one affiliated NBADL teams willing to accept these surplus players, the players will be assigned by lottery to a non-NBA owned NBADL team (10).

How many players can be rostered on a NBADL team?

10 min, 12 max. This includes any players who are on NBA contracts and sent down to the NBADL. At any given time, there can be a max of FOUR (updated from 2 as of the 2015 season) NBA contract players sent down to its respective NBADL team. However, NBADL teams are restricted to a maximum of 2 NBA players assigned per "position" (presumably classified as PG/SG/SF/PF/C).

How does a player end up in the NBADL?

Two types of players can be rostered by a D-League team--those with NBA obligations and those without. Here's how they get on NBADL teams:

  1. Players already signed to NBA contracts -- Assigned to NBADL affiliate by NBA team as desired
  2. Players whose draft rights are owned by an NBA team but remain unsigned -- Signs a contract directly with the NBADL, then immediately assigned to NBADL affiliate by NBA team (Effective going into the 2014/15 season, as the league recently added this stipulation.)
  3. Players released from NBA training camp but are currently without any current NBA obligations -- Up to 3 players released from a NBA team's training camp can be assigned to NBADL affiliate by NBA team
  4. Players without any NBA obligations -- Signs a contract directly with the NBADL, and then goes through the NBADL pre-season draft or in-season waiver auction, depending on when the player signs his NBADL contract

Who is eligible for the NBADL draft?

Before the draft, each NBADL team has the option to protect up to 12 players who finished the previous season on the team's roster. Any players left unprotected plus new NBADL-contract players not previously drafted are now eligible for the NBADL draft.

What do NBADL contracts look like?

For players without NBA obligations, they can sign standard 1-year contracts directly with the NBADL. There are 3 tiers of NBADL contracts: $25,500, $19,000 and $13,000. Players also make $40 per diem when they're on the road. Non-monetary compensation include housing and health insurance benefits.

In addition to the 3 tiers of contracts, there are also 3 respective tiers of buyouts for players who want to break their contracts to play overseas: $40,000, $45,000 or $50,000

What about the NBADL salary cap?

The NBADL has a salary cap of $173,000, and a luxury tax that is similarly structured as the NBA. Players with existing NBA contracts do not count against the NBADL salary cap.

How does someone playing in the NBADL get called up to the NBA?

For any player who does not have any NBA obligation, he can be signed away from his NBADL team by an NBA team. However, if the NBA team releases him and he wants to return to the NBADL, he will rejoin his most recent NBADL team.

Any player with NBA obligations can be recalled/signed only by his originating NBA team.


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