New Setup For The NBA Development League
By John Schuhmann

This summer, the NBA announced that it's relationship with the NBA Development League would change for the 2005-06 season. NBA teams will now be affiliated with D-League teams and could send young players under contract to the D-League for seasoning. The new system will allow teams to get more playing time for their young players who wouldn't see the time in the NBA. Each D-League team would be shared by three or four NBA teams.

The D-League's fifth season begins Nov. 18, 2005 with eight teams.
The D-League conducts a league-wide draft and teams conduct training camps in early November.
Teams are composed of 10 players and play a 48-game regular season schedule to allow for more practice time and development of skills.
An NBA team may assign any player on its Active List or Inactive List to play in the D-League, provided that the player has zero or one years of service at the time of assignment. A player on assignment will then be carried on the Inactive List of his NBA team.
No players may be given more than three assignments during any season. There is no minimum or maximum length of a D-League assignment. During the 2005-06 season, no NBA team may have more than two players on assignment at the same time.
At the end of the season, the league will evaluate the system.
Forty-five former D-Leaguers were in NBA training camps this October.
NBA TV will air the highlight show, "This Week in the NBDL," throughout the season.


Harrison would have willingly accepted a D-League stint.
D. Clarke Evans/
NBAE/Getty Images
The system sounds great, but what do GM's and players around the league really think? Opinions vary. Some teams might rather have their players with them even if they're not getting any playing time. The D-Leage team will likely be running a different offense and the coach could have a completely different philosophy then that of his NBA counterpart. These kinds of issues have Nets General Manager Ed Stefanski a bit hesitant.

"I don't think anyone knows how this is all going to work," Stefanski said. "I think people have different plans on how to use it, but we'll need some time to go by to see what experience people have had with it."

Indiana Pacers President Donnie Walsh, on the other hand, would not hesitate to use the new system... if he had a player to send down.

"This year is not the same as what we've had before," Walsh said. "Danny Granger is number one a college graduate. He's 22 years old and he will definitely play for us. He'll be in our rotation. Our other rookie is Sarunas Jasikevicius, who is a 29 year old veteran and the best player in Europe, so we're certainly not going to put them down there. Our only second year player is David Harrison and we're going to need David."

Had the system been in place in the past however, Walsh definitely would have used it.

"I would have sent Jonathan Bender down there. I would have sent Al Harrington down there, maybe David Harrison down there at different times. Because I think it would be really worthwhile. Once we start the season, I'd much rather have them getting playing time in that league than just sitting around with our team."

That's the problem, Walsh says. If you're not seeing game action, you're not really benefitting by staying with the NBA team.

"The idea of them staying with the team sounds great when you say it, but the actuality is that, once you get into the season, the coach's practices are really cut back and whole priority of the practice is to get ready for the next game. If you're not playing, you're just sitting there watching. These are young guys and their mind drifts and they start thinking about other things."

How would the players accept an assignment? David Harrison says that he would have had no problem with it last year.

"I could have got a lot more game experience down there," Harrison said. "It's about being better. I wouldn't have taken it as a hit to my ego. Some players might and some players will, but I wouldn't have taken it like that."

So how the new system will be used remains to be seen. We've seen hints that some rookies like Linas Kleiza and Julius Hodge of Denver or Ersan Ilyasova of Milwaukee might spend some time in the D-League. There are bound to be many more.

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