Carmelo Anthony went from his freshman year at Syracuse right to the NBA, but that doesn’t mean the New York Knicks star isn’t interested in diversifying how players find their way into the league.
Anthony is the Vice President of the NBAPA and told ESPN recently that he wants to rebrand the D-League.
“If I had it my way, I’d rebrand the whole D-League,” Anthony told ESPN. “I’d rebrand it so it’s not seen as a punishment.”
Anthony said a major issue he has been emphasizing in collective bargaining talks is increasing the number of “two-way contracts” that allow players to play for both D-League and NBA teams, thereby creating 44-60 more jobs. He said he also has been addressing increasing pay for D-League players to make it as lucrative to play domestically as abroad, and language that will encourage all 30 NBA teams to have a D-League affiliate.
“I’m a big advocate of developing our own players. If you look at soccer, for example, a lot of those clubs have top-notch academies,” said Anthony, who co-owns a professional team in Puerto Rico. “By me being in soccer now, I’ve started to understand the dynamics of developing your own players. We’ve got to keep our players here. We don’t want them to have to go overseas.”
The league, the NBAPA, and prominent commentators around NBA media have all called for the kinds of changes Anthony mentioned. The D-League has grown in both popularity and size — to say nothing of media coverage — in recent years.
The most interesting development as we see this push is sure to be how the balance is struck between the D-League, NBA, and NCAA. It would no doubt be preferable for some players to be able to head to the D-League to earn a wage and learn NBA systems in their first year out of high school.
Who knows? The growing fervor around the non-payment of athletes is sure to continue, and if the NCAA can’t cull the tide or find a system that works both mechanically and politically, we could very well see players head straight to the D-League instead of college.