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D-League Rule Change Could Pay Big Dividends

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Scott Schroeder (@scottschroeder) of Ridiculous Upside and FanHouse broke a really great story at The Big Black Machine this morning. I'll let him introduce the news, since he wrote so well in the first place:

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.

Let's use the Kings as an example. Say Marcus Landry, Donald Sloan and J.R. Giddens are the final three cuts from the Kings' training camp roster. Let's say all three sign D-League contracts instead of chasing money in Europe or Asia. The Kings could allocate those three players to the Reno Bighorns, where the Kings (theoretically) have a relationship with the coaching staff and management.

Basically, the players could be kept "in the program" and watched more closely (literally speaking, in our case).

It's not a true farm system element, though, in that the Kings wouldn't have exclusive call-up rights. Any NBA team with less than 15 players could offer a call-up. So it's not quite like having 18 roster spots -- if you really really want a prospect on your team, you need to keep him on your 15-man roster at the end of training camp.

Will this help the Kings? Not until the Kings get serious about the D-League, something I expect to happen shortly after Geoff Petrie retires. Seriously, Petrie has shown almost no interest in seriously using the D-League, and he's a man of his ways when it comes to team management (ask Jason Levien). The blame isn't all Petrie's -- the owners haven't ponied up to buy the Bighorns, or start an expansion team closer to Sacramento (Stockton?), or get involved with the Bighorns in a hybrid format. (Of course, why would the Maloofs do any of those things without pressure from Petrie to do so?)

The teams that will really benefit from this rule change are the teams that run their own D-League affiliates. Teams like Houston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City have already done well for themselves in using the D-League, and this helps them even more.

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All that said, how does this affect the order of training camp cuts, if at all? If Landry or Joe Crawford don't make the team, they should be two of the final three cuts and assigned to Reno. I doubt Luther Head will stick around the D-League if he doesn't make the team. If Giddens will, I think you make him one of your three Bighorns allocations instead of Sloan. If Giddens is looking overseas, you decide between Sloan and Darnell Jackson, assuming those fellows don't make the team.