D-League Assignment Rules

With Tyler Honeycutt today becoming the first NBA player to be assigned to the D-League this year, it's an appropriate time to outline the rules regarding D-League assignments, some of which change this year under the new CBA. Previously, only first- and second-year players could be sent down without their consent, and no one could be assigned more than three times a season. This year, teams may also send third-year players to the D-League without their permission, and there is no limit on the number of times a player can be assigned. Veterans with more experience can be sent down, too, as long as they sign off on it. Teams may elect to send their longer-tenured players down for a rehab assignment, for example.

Rules that remain unchanged include:

  • There is no limit to the length of an assignment.
  • NBA players receive their full salaries while on D-League assignment, but their performances don't count toward any contractual incentive clauses they may have.
  • The 10-man D-League rosters may be expanded to 12 to fit NBA assignees on the team. NBA teams who share their affiliates with other teams are allowed to assign their players to another D-League team if their affiliate's roster is full.

The Spurs, Warriors, Thunder, Lakers, Cavaliers and Mavericks all own their D-League affiliates. A handful of other NBA franchises are engaged in a "hybrid partnership" in which the D-League team runs the business operation itself while the NBA parent club takes care of the basketball side. The Celtics, Rockets, Nets, Knicks and Trail Blazers all have this kind of arrangement. The 11 teams that either own their affiliates or control basketball operations have an advantage over the rest of the league, since they can govern how much playing time their assignees receive and match their affiliate's style of play with their own. 

For more on the D-League, check out our list of affiliations for this year, our list of last year's D-League assignments and recalls, and bookmark https://www.hoopsrumors.com/nba-d-league/ to track the latest news about NBA players in the D-League.

Note: This is a Hoops Rumors Glossary entry. Our glossary posts will explain specific rules relating to trades, free agency, or other aspects of the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement. Larry Coon's Salary Cap FAQ was used in the creation of this post.

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