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)