The D-League

The most difficult league out of the big four to have a client in definitely has to be the NBA.  Roster sizes are small and there are only two rounds of draft picks per year.  Second round picks are not even guaranteed a contract.  Many leagues overseas have given players an extra opportunity to show their skills.  Additionally, domestic leagues like the CBA, ABA, and PBL pay decent salaries to athletes looking to remain around the hoop.  The best domestic league, which is directly affiliated with the NBA, is the NBDL (National Basketball Development League), also known as the D-League.  Individual teams in the league have been hosting open tryouts on various dates this past month.  Those fortunate enough to be offered a training camp contract should be very happy.  The other ways to get into the league is to be offered a contract as a returning player, be termed an allocation player or through the D-League annual draft, which will start at 7 p.m. EST tonight and may be viewed on NBATV and streamed on-line  at

If you want to know who each team allocated, has returning, or is accepting based on a local tryout, click here.  You’ll notice one name unfortunately missing on the Bakersfield Jam list.  Dynasty‘s Royce Parran.  Even though he impressed all in their open tryout, he will be added to the NBDL free-agent pool along with a couple of other Dynasty clients.  Our one client in the actual draft is Phillip Hillstock.  We are rooting for you, Phillip.

In order to become eligible to be drafted into the NBDL, you must be pre-approved by the league office and offered a contract.  The draft order is listed here.

Beyond tracking Hillstock, keep a close eye on the Utah Flash.  Since reading a story on its owner, Brandt Andersen, I have been a big fan of the team.  Here is a guy who had more than enough money to by an NBA franchise, but was denied access and told to jump in line (apparently a long one).  Instead of getting angry and calling quits on his desire to own a professional team, he went to the D-League and bought the then expansion team, Utah Flash.  Since that point, Andersen has struck many innovative deals and continues to have fresh ideas for expanding the worth of his club.  Included in those ideas is to build a small city around a new arena.  Yes, I said building a small city.  And this new arena would increase the capacity of the existing one, even though the current stadium does not sell-out home games.  You have never heard of Andersen, but he is worth multi-millions and is a young, entrepreneurial owner in the NBDL.  I would not mind having one of my clients play for such an interesting and passionate owner.

Feel free to discuss the draft as it happens or at its conclusion in the comments below.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

4 replies on “The D-League”

Good luck to Royce and Phillip. A couple questions: are NBDL contracts fully guaranteed, what time of provisions are allowed in these deals such as allowing a player to sign with an overseas team without having to forfeit money, how often do players get signed to 10-day type contracts, how many players who get drafted actually end up playing for the NBDL team, how long does a team keep the player’s rights, are there any rules about trades, if your players don’t make the NBDL, what are some other options you are pursuing? Thanks.

Coming from a hockey background, it’s hard to gain a concept of the D league. In hockey, hundreds of very good players get left out of the show, but there are literally hundreds of minor league teams which provide very good competition. It seems like there isn’t much of a chance for a guy who doesn’t get drafted initially in the NBA draft. The D League seems so underground to me. If I were representing someone who doesn’t get drafted in the NBA, I would immediately begin marketing him to European teams, or start marketing him to European teams before the draft. As far as talent goes, where does the D league rank among the world’s leagues? Also, how strong are the affiliations between the NBA and D league teams?

On a final note, every start-up minor league in any sport needs an entrepreneurial mind to spark the league’s growth. It sounds like Andersen has that mind. If he can grow the D league, the effect will be very positive on the NBA.

The D-League has gained more and more notoriety the past few years. I see it as a solid “Minor League” for the future. There are also leagues like the CBA, PBL, ABA, etc. You also mention overseas. There are positives and negatives of sending a player overseas. The D-League is not worse or better than a lot of competing overseas leagues..just different in many ways. Affiliations between NBA and NBDL are very strong. Most NBDL teams are linked to 2 NBA teams.

Comments are closed.