With the NBA expanding its developmental league, the next step may be to expand the number of players teams can have on their rosters.
Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com reported Saturday that the NBA may consider expanding rosters from 15 to 17 players as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.
As it currently stands, the NBA has 19 D-League teams. Three more franchises—the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Charlotte Hornets—will have D-League affiliates for the 2016-17 season as the Association inches closer to having a D-League team for all 30 squads.
The immediate expansion of the D-League will not stop there. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported Jan. 6 the Orlando Magic have begun taking the necessary steps to have a D-League team by the start of the 2017-18 season. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today also noted Jan. 18 that five more teams are looking to add D-League teams within the next few years.
Howard-Cooper pointed out in his report that this process could benefit both the NBA and the D-League simultaneously:
The proposal would mean as many as 60 new jobs for players, if rosters do increase by two and depending how many of the 30 NBA teams utilize both spots. That, in turn, would mean a deeper talent pool for the D-League as it grows from 19 teams this season to 22 in 2016-17 and possibly more in what is projected to be the first season of the new CBA. And that would mean more prospects for the NBA to develop without paying major-league salaries.
However, as Howard-Cooper noted, these talks are still in the early stages, and the financial aspect is not even close to being finalized:
According to insiders, though, the thinking is to set the minor-league portion of the dual contract in the neighborhood of $100,000 a season, give or take $25,000. That would only be for hopefuls with two-way contracts, not all D-League players with salaries that currently peak at $25,000 if they have no NBA deal. Salaries of players sent down with NBA contracts, usually rookies or second-year prospects, would not be altered.
This would be a good move for a couple of reasons. Per Howard-Cooper, it would create 60 more jobs. If there's a player who performed well in the preseason and a team is on the fence about him, that opens the door for said player to get a roster spot.
Once the D-League expands to 30 teams and becomes the official minor league system of the NBA, that would not only increase the amount of talent, as Howard-Cooper noted, but it also would be a way for the D-League to expand its appeal as a nationwide system. It could possibly attract more fans to see what's going on in the developmental world and to see more talent that hasn't been exposed.
The current CBA was ratified for 10 years in 2011, according to NBA.com, but Howard-Cooper pointed out it could expire at the end of the 2016-17 season. This is sure to be a hot-button topic when these meetings begin.