Report: NBA allowing two-way players to play unlimited games, including playoffs

Warriors two-way player Juan Toscano-Anderson and Cavaliers two-way player Lamar Stevens
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Juan Toscano-Anderson (Warriors), Garrison Mathews (Wizards), P.J. Dozier (Nuggets), Gabe Vincent (Heat), Max Strus (Heat), Lamar Stevens (Cavaliers) and Yuta Watanabe (Raptors) are all playing key roles on teams in playoff contention. Jordan McLaughlin (Timberwolves) also receives regular playing time.

But because those players were on two-way contracts, they were in jeopardy of becoming unavailable to their teams.

Even in this coronavirus-altered season, two-way players were limited to 50 active regular-season games and ineligible for the playoffs. To play a two-way player more games and in the postseason, a team had to convert him to a standard contract.

That will no longer be necessary, though.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Teams generally wanted more roster flexibility given pandemic complications. That won’t come through an 18th roster spot. But expanded ability to use two-way players serves a similar purpose.

This is great news for teams who have two-way contributors. It’s a competitive disadvantage for teams getting less from their two-way players.

It’ll also hurt many two-way players.

Usually, good two-way players gain leverage by the availability limit. For their teams to use them in more games and the playoffs, players could demand a higher-paying standard contract.

This season, two-way players have a base salary of $449,155. For comparison, the standard-contract minimum is $898,310.

Now, why would teams sign two-way players to a standard contract? They can pay the standard-contract rate for only when they want the two-way player (rather than necessarily the full rest of the season). Importantly, teams can also get two-way players in the playoffs without having to pay standard-contract rate.

Some two-way players, who wouldn’t have drawn a standard contract, will come out ahead with slightly increased salaries.

But for the top two-way players — the ones rightfully drawing the most attention with this rule change — it’s a setback.