Throughout the offseason, and in the weeks leading up to the start of the regular season, NBA teams are permitted to carry 20 players, but that total must be cut down to 15 in advance of opening night. However, up to four players waived by teams before the season can be designated as affiliate players and assigned to their D-League squads.
The players have some say in the decision — if they’d prefer to sign with a team overseas, or if they get an opportunity with another NBA club, they’re free to turn down their team’s request to have them play in the D-League. Most NBA and international teams have fairly set rosters by late October though, so having the opportunity to continue playing in the same system is appealing to many of those preseason cuts. Especially since they’ll maintain NBA free agency while they play in the D-League.
There are a few other rules related to D-League affiliate players. A player whose returning rights are held by a D-League team can’t be an affiliate player for another club, which is why undrafted free agents from the current year are commonly signed and assigned. Additionally, an affiliate player must have signed with his team during the current league year, which explains why we often see players signed and quickly waived in the days leading up to the regular season. And, of course, not every NBA team has a D-League affiliate, so clubs like the Hawks, Nuggets, or Clippers have no place to send affiliate players.
With all that in mind, here are the NBA D-League affiliate players to start the 2016/17 season:
Austin Spurs (San Antonio Spurs)
Canton Charge (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Delaware 87ers (Philadelphia 76ers)
Erie BayHawks (Orlando Magic)
Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Indiana Pacers)
Grand Rapids Drive (Detroit Pistons)
- Trey Freeman
- Nikola Jovanovic
- Ray McCallum
- Mamadou N’Diaye
Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte Hornets)
Iowa Energy (Memphis Grizzlies)
Long Island Nets (Brooklyn Nets)
Los Angeles D-Fenders (Los Angeles Lakers)
Maine Red Claws (Boston Celtics)
- Marcus Georges-Hunt
- Jalen Jones
- Damion Lee
- Note: Ryan Kelly was the team’s fourth affiliate player, but he has since been signed by the Atlanta Hawks.
Northern Arizona Suns (Phoenix Suns)
Oklahoma City Blue (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Raptors 905 (Toronto Raptors)
Reno Bighorns (Sacramento Kings)
Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets)
Salt Lake City Stars (Utah Jazz)
Santa Cruz Warriors (Golden State Warriors)
Sioux Falls Skyforce (Miami Heat)
Texas Legends (Dallas Mavericks)
Westchester Knicks (New York Knicks)
Windy City Bulls (Chicago Bulls)
Here are a few other notes related to the D-League’s current rosters:
- Three draft picks from 2016 are on D-League rosters despite not having signed with their respective teams. Daniel Hamilton (No. 56 overall pick) joined the Thunder‘s affiliate, Abdel Nader (No. 58) is with the Celtics‘ affiliate, and Tyrone Wallace (No. 60) is with the Jazz‘ affiliate.
- While we tracked just about all of the signings and cuts in the days leading up to the regular season, one we missed was the Warriors‘ addition of Chris Obekpa, who signed with Golden State on October 21 and was waived on October 22. The team picked up his D-League rights and made him an affiliate player.
- A handful of other players who were in camp with certain teams are now on those clubs’ D-League affiliates, despite not technically being affiliate players. For instance, Brady Heslip and E.J. Singler weren’t affiliate players for the Raptors, but the Raptors 905 traded for the D-League rights to both players, ensuring they’ll remain in the organization after playing for Toronto in the preseason.
Information from the official NBA D-League site was used in the creation of this post.