Recently on NBA.com Art Garcia discussed ways to improve the D-League. He’s got some good ideas worth considering, and it inspired this new D-League fan to take a look at the future of the league as well. Call it D-League 2.0.
Garcia has some great ideas. My personal favorites are increasing the number of assignments, allowing players to be assigned throughout their rookie contract, and letting NBA teams send down veteran players on rehab. Most of Garcia’s other ideas are worthwhile as well, though I’m not sure you want to encourage NBA ownership of D-League teams. That model has had mixed results so far.
Garcia brings up these topics because they all would have to be covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBA and its players, which is set to expire soon. There are other changes that could be made to the D-League as well:
Thirst For Thirty
Let’s get rid of this multiple NBA teams per D-League team nonsense. It hinders the development of the D-League as a true farm system. If there were thirty D-League teams, they could run a similar system to their parent club, making it a real developmental league. The D-League and the NBA should do everything fiscally feasible to encourage the addition of more D-League teams so they can both be at thirty.
Expand In Larger Cities
Just because the D-League is a minor league doesn’t mean they have to stick to minor markets. The NBA has made it clear that they don’t want to expand anytime soon. There are a number of markets with other major league teams untouched by pro basketball that could be well served by the D-League.
Let’s re-examine the model of signing contracts with the league, rather than teams. The D-League could still have call-ups if players signed contracts with individual teams; they’d just have to be structured differently. You’d have to be careful about it so it doesn’t hinder call-ups, but it might be worth re-examining.
These are just some ideas after a few weeks of D-League fandom. Garcia presents some great thoughts, and no doubt others have as well. The new CBA negotiations provide an opportunity to revisit many D-League policies.