Not so long ago, European clubs flush with money waited until the end of NBA training camps to strengthen their rosters with the latest cuts in the league. What was once common practice is a rarity these days.
Up to 129 players were cut during training camp last month. So far, 120 have already found a new destination. In all but 10 cases, that new home was located in North America. That’s a paltry 8.3 percent of the total. That number may grow a bit as the season progresses, but there’s no question in the last few years there’s a pattern of players passing more and more on moving overseas to try their luck Stateside – most of the times in the G League.
Just look at the numbers:
Since the last NBA lockout, the amount of players choosing the American route has steadily grown. A depressed economy in European basketball and constant improvements, both financial and structure-wise, in the G League have made attracting fringe NBA talent a lot tougher for international clubs.
“The NBA has put a tremendous amount of resources into the G League,” agent Mark Bartelstein said. “The G League is being run much more professionally than ever before. The teams are investing much more money in trying to develop players there.”
The players have more hope that they are going to be discovered or scouted in the D-League now than they were seven or eight years ago.”
Agent Keith Kreiter echoed that sentiment: “We advise our guys to stay home if the feedback around the NBA suggests they’re close and a call up is almost expected.”
Compounding the problem for international teams are the new two-way contracts, which added dozens of new NBA jobs this season.
“They are killing us,” Alba Berlin sport director Himar Ojeda said. [The players signing two-way contracts] are ideal guys for mid-level teams in Europe, guys that end up making the jump to Euroleague clubs. The Jaycee Carroll-type players will now probably stick around in the G League more than they used to.”
With little shot at signing those players in the fall, many clubs overseas try to strike early in the offseason.
“In the past, there were a lot of international teams that really waited to see who was cut by the NBA teams before they finished off their rosters,” Bartelstein said. “They had those rosters spot open. Now they are much more focused on building their teams in the summer and they are not going to wait. If they like one player, they are going to sign them right away and not wait.”