The disappearance of shared D-League affiliates this season shouldn’t have much of an effect, since the 13 teams that shared the Fort Wayne Mad Ants last season rarely sent players on assignment, argues Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor. The Hawks, as Reichert notes, were the exception.
Atlanta made 11 assignments to the D-League in 2014/15, more than twice as many as any other NBA franchise without a one-to-one NBA affiliate. The Raptors were next in that category, with four, but they’ve started their own D-League team for this season. Still, the Hawks aren’t strangers to the system that will govern their D-League assignments in the months ahead.
The 11 remaining NBA teams without their own D-League affiliate may assign players to the affiliates of other NBA franchises, just as the Hawks did three times last season when the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the D-League squad Atlanta shared with a dozen other NBA teams, had a full roster. The Hawks used the arrangement to find a home particularly conducive to the development of their players, as Adam Johnson of D-League Digest observes, sending Adreian Payne on two occasions to the affiliate of the Spurs. Hawks coach/executive Mike Budenholzer was a longtime assistant in San Antonio before taking the job in Atlanta, and he’s brought a similar operation with him to his new job. The Hawks also sent John Jenkins to the affiliate of the Jazz, another organization with close ties to the Spurs.
Of course, it won’t always work out that way. Not every NBA team has close similarities with another, Johnson notes. The D-League will ask for volunteers among its ranks to take NBA players on assignments, but if the affiliate that the NBA team making the assignment doesn’t raise its hand, the NBA club has to choose another volunteer or have the destination for its assigned player determined at random if no volunteers emerge.
It’s an imperfect system, but it’s the price NBA teams that haven’t invested in their own D-League outfits must pay. Of course, many of those teams figure to simply decline to participate, given their lack of D-League assignments in the past.
With an assist from the D-League Usage Reports that Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors compiled, below is a list of every D-League assignment that the 13 teams without a one-to-one D-League affiliate made last season. Those teams collectively sent players to the one-to-one affiliates of other NBA franchises on six occasions, with the Spurs taking on six such players.
- November 20th: Assigned Adreian Payne (Recalled November 23rd)
- November 28th: Assigned John Jenkins (Recalled December 8th)
- November 28th: Assigned Adreian Payne (Recalled December 6th)
- December 6th: Assigned Mike Muscala (Recalled December 8th)
- December 9th: Assigned Adreian Payne to Spurs affiliate (Recalled December 22nd)
- December 19th: Assigned Mike Muscala (Recalled December 20th)
- December 28th: Assigned Mike Muscala (Recalled December 29th)
- December 30th: Assigned John Jenkins to Jazz affiliate (Recalled January 20th)
- December 30th: Assigned Adreian Payne to Spurs affiliate (Recalled January 12th)
- February 7th: Assigned Mike Muscala (Recalled February 8th)
- March 1st: Assigned Mike Muscala (Recalled March 2nd)
- January 1st: Assigned Markel Brown to Celtics affiliate (Recalled January 8th)
- January 1st: Assigned Cory Jefferson to Celtics affiliate (Recalled January 8th)
- December 27th: Assigned Noah Vonleh (Recalled December 31st)
- December 28th: Assigned Jeffery Taylor to Spurs affiliate (Recalled January 9th)
Indiana Pacers (this year, they’ll have their own affiliate)
- January 27th: Assigned Shayne Whittington (Recalled January 30th)
- April 8th: Assigned Shayne Whittington (D-League Playoffs)
Los Angeles Clippers
New Orleans Pelicans
- December 5th: Assigned Russ Smith (Recalled December 8th)
- December 11th: Assigned Russ Smith (Recalled December 20th)
- January 9th: Assigned Russ Smith (Traded to the Grizzlies on January 12th)
Portland Trail Blazers
Toronto Raptors (this year, they’ll have their own affiliate)
- December 25th: Assigned Bruno Caboclo (Recalled January 1st)
- February 18th: Assigned Bruno Caboclo (Recalled March 8th)
- March 12th: Assigned Lucas Nogueira (Recalled March 16th)
- March 17th: Assigned Lucas Nogueira (Recalled March 26th)