The Thunder and representatives for Josh Huestis made an arrangement prior to the draft in which Huestis agreed to sign with Oklahoma City’s D-League affiliate for this season in exchange for the Thunder taking him 29th overall, agent Mitchell Butler tells Grantland’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link). Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman originally reported this weekend that Huestis was likely to sign with the Thunder’s D-League team.
Huestis was projected as a second-round pick at best, coming in 44th in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings, and Chad Ford of ESPN.com had him as only the 90th best draft prospect. Butler told Lowe that he wasn’t sure that his client would be drafted at all and saw the deal with Oklahoma City as the best way to make sure that a team would pick him (Twitter link). Huestis didn’t want to play for a European team and was on board with the D-League idea, Butler added, noting that Huestis wouldn’t have gone for the plan if any other NBA team had asked him to do so, with the exception of the Spurs (Twitter link). Butler also contends that the arrangement doesn’t violate the NBA’s rules against discussing potential compensation with a prospect prior to the draft, as Lowe also tweets.
The small forward from Stanford is in line for a fraction of the more than $1.1MM that he would have received this season if he were signing an NBA rookie scale contract for the standard 120% of the rookie scale amount, as our table of likely first-round salaries shows. D-League salaries top out around $25K. It’s not clear whether the Thunder have promised to sign Huestis next summer as part of the deal or if it’ll be up to him to prove his worth in the D-League this year. Huestis expressed confidence in his abilities when he spoke with Zach Links of Hoops Rumors prior to the draft.
The Thunder also moved to cut costs last year with their first-round pick, doling out only 80% of the scale amount to 2013 26th overall pick Andre Roberson. A change in D-League rules for this year allows NBA draft picks to sign directly with the affiliate of the team that holds their NBA rights, helping pave the way for Oklahoma City’s Huestis plan. The Thunder had to work trades last year to acquire the first pick in the 2013 D-League draft to grab the D-League rights to No. 40 overall pick Grant Jerrett, moves they won’t have to undertake this time around.