The NBA D-League made the following announcement today (h/t: iamagm.com)
The NBA Development League (NBA D-League) experienced its most successful season ever in developing NBA talent as it set all-time records with 50 GATORADE Call-ups, breaking the previous record of 40 set during the 2009-10 season, and 64 NBA player assignments, surpassing the previous record of 56 assignments established last year.
As the NBA regular season draws to a close, 25 percent of team rosters consist of players with NBA D-League experience (108), including 36 percent from the 2010 and 2011 NBA Draft classes (43). Featuring former Erie BayHawks and Reno Bighorns star Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks, former Los Angeles D-Fenders star Gerald Green of the New Jersey Nets, former Tulsa 66ers star Ramon Sessions of the Los Angeles Lakers and former Rio Grande Valley Viper star C.J. Watson of the Chicago Bulls, all 30 NBA teams now have at least one player who previously made his mark in the NBA D-League.
None of this should be surprising: teams are getting more and more comfortable using the D-League as a place to find players, the lockout-compressed season necessitated a need for more fresh legs and injury replacements, and players like Jeremy Lin are making teams realize that former D-Leaguers can turn into really, really effective players.
The D-League will never be a “true” minor league system like baseball’s is — don’t expect Anthony Davis to spend a minute in the D-League next year unless he’s rehabbing an injury — but it’s become an extremely valuable resource to a number of teams. Even though the money that top European teams pay will likely always be better than what D-League teams can offer, it appears that the D-League is here to stay.
For the past couple seasons, a guy named Antoine Walker was playing for the Idaho Stampede in the D-League who looked and sounded a lot like the former Celtic and three-time All-Star.
But if you watched him he was a shell of that former player (which is why he never got another shot in the NBA). He had become a player more known as a cautionary tale of losing money than the Chicago legend who went on to play for storied teams like Kentucky and the Celtics. A guy who picked up a ring in 2006 with the Heat.
He announced it quietly, in the Stampede locker room, the team announced, a stark contrast to the bombastic player who could score and shimmy with the best of them. He is walking away from the game after a dozen seasons in the NBA and two in the D-League. A formal announcement is expected soon
Rather thank talk about what happened off the court, I will choose to remember the guy who could make the best defenders in the game look helpless.
Report: Allen Iverson willing to start comeback in D-League
John Ireland, the Lakers radio play-by-play person and long-time Los Angeles sports radio and television personality, told an interesting story on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles today:
The Lakers had interest in giving Allen Iverson a shot before the season started and offered him a contract — but he had to start with the D-Fenders, the Lakers D-League team. He would get a call up to the Lakers when he proved ready.
Iverson is willing to play in the Caribbean, in South America or even in the D-League if it gives him a chance to return to the NBA, the source said.
“Allen only wants to play if there’s a possibility that it leads to the NBA,” the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “That’s the only way he would go to one of these lower leagues. He wants to get back to the NBA and leave the game on his terms.”
It’s hard not to wonder if this is tied to Iverson’s reported financial troubles. If he really would accept a D-League assignment it seems like that could be the path he wants to get back to the NBA. But there will be no guarantees from teams of an NBA spot — after Iverson’s last year in Memphis and Philly teams are leery. They think the off-the-court distraction and media circus would not be worth what they get on the court from him at this point.