This FAQ is designed to give readers insight into the nuances of the NBA D-League. There are five sections: general information, roster formation, pre-season/draft, salaries/call-ups, and rule differences from the NBA.
We will regularly update the FAQ as new information comes out or if changes occur (which they inevitably will; it’s the D-League). If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact me on Twitter at @Chris_Reichert.
When did the NBA D-League begin?
The league was established in 2001/02.
What is the age minimum for players to sign in the D-League.
18 years old.
How many teams are there in the D-League?
There are currently 19 teams in the NBA D-League for the 2015/16 season. As of now, three expansion teams (Charlotte, Brooklyn and Chicago) will be added for the 2016/17 season bringing the total to 22 teams. The three new team names are:
Windy City Bulls (Chicago)
Long Island Nets (Brooklyn)
Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte)
Which teams are affiliated with NBA teams?
Every team is now affiliated with an NBA team.
Western Conference: Austin Spurs* (San Antonio Spurs), Northern Arizona Suns* (Phoenix Suns), Salt Lake City Stars* (Utah Jazz), Los Angeles D-Fenders* (Los Angeles Lakers), Oklahoma City Blue* (Oklahoma City Thunder), Reno Bighorns (Sacramento Kings), Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets), Santa Cruz Warriors* (Golden State Warriors), Texas Legends (Dallas Mavericks)
Eastern Conference: Canton Charge* (Cleveland Cavaliers), Delaware 87ers* (Philadelphia 76ers), Erie BayHawks (Orlando Magic), Grand Rapids Drive (Detroit Pistons), Iowa Energy (Memphis Grizzlies), Maine Red Claws (Boston Celtics), Sioux Falls Skyforce (Miami Heat), Westchester Knicks* (New York Knicks), Raptors 905* (Toronto Raptors), Fort Wayne Mad Ants* (Indiana Pacers)
*Indicates fully owned and operated by NBA club. Those w/o the * are hybrid affiliations.
How many games are there in the D-League season?
There are 50 regular season games. There is an All-Star game, 3-point shootout and dunk contest as well which is part of the NBA All-Star Weekend (since 2007).
How many teams make the D-League playoffs?
There are eight teams total. The four division winners plus two wildcard teams from each conference.
How many rounds are the D-League playoffs?
Three rounds — each round is best-of-three format.
What is the D-League Showcase?
The D-League Showcase is a mid-season scouting event where every team in the league plays at least two games over a five-day stretch. The teams that advance play more than two games, however, only the first two games go toward their overall season record. NBA executives from around the league attend in hopes of finding the next rising star from the D-League.
For the 2015/16 season the Showcase will be in Santa Cruz, CA and will go from January 6-10th.
What is the record for NBA Call-Ups in a single season?
The record for number of call-ups is 63 (2014/15). The record for number of different players called-up in one season is 47 (2014/15).
What is the record for NBA Assignments in a single season?
The record for assignments in one season is 319 (2015/16).
How many players are on a D-League roster?
There can be up to 12 players on a roster. There can be only 10 active players with two inactive players. With NBA assignees there, a team may dress a maximum of 12 players for any given game.
Is there a minimum roster size during the season?
Teams must maintain a roster size of 10 during the regular and playoff season. This can change with the assignment process. As a result, no team may dress less than 8 players or more than 12 given certain assignment/call-up circumstances.
Do NBA assignment players count towards the D-League roster total?
No, teams can have more than 12 players on their roster for a given game if there are NBA assignment players included. Also, they can dress up to 12 players for a game if NBA assignees are with the team.
What happens when an NBA team without a D-League affiliate wants to place a player on assignment?
Those teams will be subject to the flex assignment system. An explanation of that is below.
Flex Assignment System: Upon receipt of an assignment from an independent NBA team, the NBA D-League will identify any NBA D-League team willing to accept the assigned player. The assigning independent NBA team will then choose the destination for assignment between those teams. If no NBA D-League team is willing to accept the assigned player, he will be assigned to one of the hybrid affiliate teams pursuant to a lottery.
Is there a limit on how many NBA players each team can have assigned?
Yes. Each team can only have three (3) NBA players assigned at one time.
Disclaimer: If there are flex assignment players involved, then a team can theoretically have more than three assignees at once. The limit of three is for their own affiliate.
Can free agents sign with any D-League team of their choosing?
No. Players sign contracts with the league and enter a player pool. The teams can then claim players dependent on their waiver order. The waiver period is 48 hours and once that has passed and a player is unclaimed then they enter the “available player pool” and any team can acquire them regardless of waiver priority.
What is an “assignment” player?
A player put on assignment is a player on an NBA roster who is being sent to the D-League to get some playing time. The NBA club still holds their exclusive rights and only they can recall said player. Assignment players must have three (3) years of NBA experience or less and can be assigned an unlimited number of times.
*Players with 4 or more years of experience can also be assigned to the D-League however they must give their NBA team consent for the assignment.
Does an “assignment” player still count against the 15-man NBA roster?
Yes. Sending a player to the D-League on assignment does not free up a roster spot for the NBA club who assigned him.
What is a “draft rights” player?
If an NBA teams still holds the draft rights to a particular player and they join the D-League, then they are automatically allocated to that NBA team’s affiliate. A draft rights player may only earn an NBA call up from their parent club, so they are in essence a protected player.
What is an “affiliate” player?
At the end of NBA training camps, NBA teams can allocate up to four players to their D-League affiliate team (if they have one). These players can still be called up by any other NBA team once they are in the D-League.
What is an “in-season affiliate” player?
If an NBA team waives a player after the season has started they have the option of allocating that player to their D-League affiliate as an in-season affiliate player. They can only do this if they did not have the maximum four (4) affiliates at the beginning of the season. Only players who were in training camp are eligible. For example, the Philadelphia 76ers waived Christian Wood and allocated him as an in-season affiliate player this season.
When does the draft take place?
The 2015 D-League Draft will be October 31st.
How many players can be invited to a D-League training camp?
Each team must have no fewer than 12 players and no more than 17 for training camps. Up to five (5) of those players can be from open tryouts.
Is the D-League Draft selection process the same as the NBA?
No. Teams must select one eligible player in round 1-5. Rounds 6-8 will be optional.
If there is an expansion team, what draft pick do they get?
Any expansion team is placed between the teams that did not qualify for the previous season’s playoffs and the teams that did qualify.
If there is an expansion team, is there an expansion draft?
Yes. Sometime before (usually 1-2 months) the D-League Draft there will be an expansion draft for any new teams to obtain returning player rights to players. Each of the returning teams can protect up to 12 players that cannot be selected in the expansion draft. The expansion team can select up to 17 players in the expansion draft, but they cannot select more than two players from any one returning team.
What are the D-League salaries?
There are three levels for salaries: C-Level: $13,000; B-Level: $19,000; A-Level: $25,500
As with most contracts there are individual incentives. Players can earn a “bonus” for making end of the year All-NBA D-League teams or by winning an individual award. (Range from $1,000-$3,000)
*There are no multi-year contracts in the D-League. All contracts are one year in length.
Can a player’s salary change during the season?
Yes. Players may start at a certain level (A, B or C) and either be moved up or down during the season. Players must consent to any salary change and a reduction in a player’s salary may only be made if a team makes a roster move in conjunction with the reduction.
What happens to player salaries if they join, or leave, the league mid-season?
Any salary earned will be prorated based on number of days left in the season. For example, if a player signs with the league as an A-level player but joins at the halfway point, then they will earn $12,750 instead of $25,500.
Is there a salary cap?
Yes. It is $173,000 per team. Also, a single team may have no more than five “A-level” contracts at one time. The cap is designed for each team to have (2)A-level contracts, (3)B-levels and (5)C-levels; however that combination can change. Any amount over the cap has to be paid by the team.
Do D-League teams have to replace a player who is called-up?
Yes. The team must activate an inactive player, make a waiver claim, or add a new player from the available player pool.
When are players eligible to be called-up to the NBA?
Anytime a player is signed by an NBA team after signing with the NBA D-League, it is considered a call-up.
When can NBA teams offer 10-day contracts to D-League players?
January 5 – or the first business day after.
How much are 10-day contracts worth?
A player’s salary for their 10-day stint is based on their tenure with the NBA. Here are the 2015-16 contract amounts based on the current CBA projected salary cap for 2015-16:
0 Years – $30,887.82 1 Year – $49,709.35 2 Years – $55,722.12 3 Years – $57,726.35
4 Years – $59,730.65 5 Years – $64,741.29 6 Years – $69,752.00 7 Years – $74,762.59
8 Years – $79,773.29 9 Years – $80,175.71 10+ Years – $88,187.47
The salaries are based on the NBA minimum contracts for those same tenures, so they will usually change each season.
How many 10-day contracts can a player sign each season?
There is no limit to the number of 10-day contracts a player may sign. However, each team can only sign a specific player to two 10-day contracts during a season – after the second 10-day contract has expired they must release the player or sign them for the remainder of the season, or longer.
What if a player is called-up and then waived later that season? What team do they go to?
When a player is called up to the NBA their D-League team retains their player rights for the duration of the current season and the two following seasons. If that played is waived, they must return to their D-League team.
Are D-League teams rewarded for having a player called-up?
Sort of. If a player is called up and is in the NBA for 21 days or more, then their D-League team moves to the top of the waiver order for new free agents. If there are two or more teams that have players called up for 21 or more days, then the order is determined by which player was called up first and so on.
Do International teams have to pay a buyout fee to sign a current D-League player?
Yes. Buyout fees are as follows – C-Level: $40,000; B-Level: $45,000; A-Level: $50,000
Note: Some teams will assist a player and simply waive them so that they can sign with a team overseas and forego the buyout process.
RULE DIFFERENCES FROM NBA
What is the “advance” rule?
This rule allows the team with possession to stop play, substitute and advance the ball to the 28-foot-mark in the frontcourt without using a timeout. Each team will be granted one “advance” that can be used only in the last two minutes of the fourth period and one to be used in the last two minutes of each overtime period.
What is the away-from-the-play foul rule?
An away-from-the-play foul is defined as any illegal contact by the defense which occurs either deliberately away from the immediate area of offensive action, prior to the ball being released on a throw-in, or both. If an away-from-the-play foul is committed at any point in the game, personal and team fouls will be assessed and one free throw attempt will be awarded to any player in the game at the time the personal foul was committed.
What is the goaltending rule?
The D-League uses the international rules for goaltending, meaning that once on the rim the ball can be knocked off at any point without any penalty.
What is a coach’s challenge?
The coach’s challenge enables NBA D-League coaches to initiate instant replay review of referee calls of personal or shooting fouls, including offensive fouls, as well as those plays that have been identified as triggers for instant replay. Violations such as traveling and palming may not be challenged, nor can continuations or act-of-shooting determinations. A timeout must be called to initiate a challenge. If the challenge is successful the team keeps their timeout and the coach gets an opportunity to challenge another call throughout the game. If the challenge is unsuccessful the team is charged the timeout and they cannot challenge the rest of the game.