Throughout the offseason and preseason, NBA teams are permitted to carry 20 players, but that total must be cut down to 15 (plus a pair of two-way players) in advance of opening night. However, up to four players waived by a team prior to the season can be designated as “affiliate players” and assigned to that team’s G League squad.
The players have a say in this decision. If they’d prefer to sign with a team overseas, or if they get an opportunity with another NBA club, they’re under no obligation to become affiliate players. But if the player’s NBA team has designated him as an affiliate player and he signs a G League contract, he is automatically assigned to that team’s NBAGL roster.
Since most NBA and international teams aren’t looking to bring in extra players by the time the NBA regular season begins, the opportunity to continue playing in the same system appeals to many of those preseason cuts — especially since many of them will be in line for bonuses worth up to $50K after having signed Exhibit 10 contracts. Plus, they’ll continue to be NBA free agents while they play in the G League.
A player whose returning rights are held by a G League team can’t become an affiliate player for another club, which is why undrafted rookies typically make up a substantial portion of the annual league-wide list of affiliate players.
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 and weeks leading up to the regular season. An affiliate player also can’t have received a partial guarantee worth more than $50K on his standard contract — a larger guarantee would make him ineligible to join his club’s NBAGL affiliate for the rest of that league year.
Finally, not every NBA team has a G League affiliate, so there are two teams – the Suns and Trail Blazers – with no place to send affiliate players.
With the G League season set to get underway today, we’ll be publishing this year’s list of affiliate players soon. By our count, there are 90 of them across 28 teams this season, but we’re still confirming that info.
Earlier version of this post were published in 2015 and 2019 by Chuck Myron and Luke Adams.