The partnership between the NBA and NBA Gatorade League will take a big step in its evolution this year with the introduction of two-way contracts.
NBA rosters will grow from 15 spots to 17 thanks to the addition of a pair of “two-way players” that can spend up to 45 days on an NBA roster.
Under these contracts, which are similar to those used in Minor League Baseball, a player will be able to make an NBA salary on a pro-rata basis while with the parent club, while also being able to earn his G League salary when with the affiliate team.
The Lakers have seen considerable recent success in using the G League to their advantage, as Jordan Clarkson, Ivica Zubac and Tarik Black have served as D-Fenders (now South Bay Lakers) affiliate players in the past.
Meanwhile, David Nwaba was called up from the D-Fenders and provided a strong, 20-game sample with the Lakers last year.
The effects of these new contracts will alter how players and teams can strategize around the G League.
Players who may have otherwise went overseas to make more money will now be further incentivized to join the G League in hopes of being selected for a two-way contract, thus earning an NBA salary.
Meanwhile, these contracts will encourage NBA teams to hold onto second-round picks and place more emphasis on undrafted free agents considering the expansion of their rosters.
At the end of last season, 44 percent of players on NBA rosters had prior G League experience. Now, under this two-way system, an even greater emphasis will be placed on using the G League to grow NBA talent.