For a long time, the Wizards were one of the few teams in the league without a minor league affiliate. But on Wednesday morning, according to Candace Buckner of the Washington Post and Todd Dybas of the Washington Times, the team has finally purchased a one-to-one relationship with a team in the NBA G-League (formerly known as the D-League) for the 2018-19 NBA season.
The team, which has yet to be named, is set to play at the Wizards’ forthcoming practice facility on the former campus of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington. The facility will also serve as the home arena for the Washington Mystics.
Why does a G-League Affiliate matter?
Now that they have an affiliate, the Wizards will be able to hire a front office and coaching staff reflecting their core values and concepts as a franchise. The team will be able to send their younger players to that affiliate to hone their talent when they’re not playing heavy minutes at the NBA level.
Previously, when the Wizards sent their talent to the NBA’s minor league, they had to send them to teams affiliated with other franchises. Here’s more from Buckner on that:
Last season, the Wizards used the league as a temporary stop for young players who were not getting playing time in games. However, Washington had to send its players to the Delaware 87ers, the Philadelphia 76ers’ affiliate. In March, Wizards forward Chris McCullough played with the Northern Arizona Suns as the rest of the Wizards played through a Western Conference road trip.
The Wizards will become the 27th team to own and operate an affiliated minor league franchise. Having a place to cultivate talent as well as a pipeline to other talent is important.
And with the NBA’s newly negotiated collective bargaining agreement, the league is allowing new “two-way” contracts that permit teams to carry 17 players on their roster with two players designated to play in the NBA G-League.
What is a two-way contract?
Two-way contract players will be paid more than players on a typical G-League roster, but are only allowed to participate in NBA Training Camp and can’t travel with the team for more than 45 days. If they do, their contract must be converted into a complete NBA level deal.
This expands their options on what they can do with the 52nd overall draft pick on Thursday. It allows the team to keep developing players close. In the past, teams without roster space or money would send their player overseas to play and develop their game. And they may have an easier time convincing players who are drafted from other league’s overseas to come over early to sign with the team on a two-way deal.
Aaron White and Tomas Satoransky are the two most recent examples of that for Washington. White is still currently playing overseas, but don’t be surprised if the Wizards call him over to play on their affiliate when the time comes.
Overall, this is a great move for Washington. Truth be told, they could have used this team last year with some of the up-and-coming players they had on their roster like Sheldon Mac, Daniel Ochefu and Danuel House. But, as the old adage goes, better late than never.
UPDATE: The Wizards have made the news official. Here’s what Ernie Grunfeld had to say about today’s announcement in the press release:
“The NBA G League has been a great resource for us over the years, both for calling up talent and for allowing young players on our roster to gain more on-court experience. Having our own team, selecting the front office and coaching staff and being able to implement our system will allow us to further enhance our player and staff development program moving forward.”