Storyline: Two-Way Contracts

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed forward Deng Adel to a Two-Way contract, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman announced today. Adel (6-7, 200) has played in 25 games (24 starts) this season for the Raptors 905 of the NBA G League, averaging 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 31.6 minutes per game. He played three years collegiately at Louisville, where he averaged 11.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 26.8 minutes per game over 89 games (71 starts). The Khartoum, South Sudan native originally went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Jones did nothing wrong with the Cavaliers and everyone in the organization really liked him, including head coach Larry Drew. Jones averaged 5.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 13.4 minutes. He reached double figures in scoring twice over the last six games. But by rule, Jones started with just 34 days that he could spend with the Cavaliers and those were almost up. A league source estimated that Jones had just 10 days remaining with the Cavs before the team needed to make a decision between signing him to a contract or sending him back down to the G League until that season ended.

Jared Terrell is on a two-way NBA contract, so there are times where he has no idea if he’ll be with the Timberwolves or the team’s G-League affiliate in Iowa. On Wednesday, he was back home in Boston, where the Celtics topped the Timberwolves, 115-102. The Weymouth native and former Rhode Island standout was active for Minnesota, with Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose both injured. It was an unexpected trip home for Terrell, who was undrafted and signed a two-way deal on July 5. “It’s been a couple of months [away] but it feels good to be home.” he said. “I couldn’t circle [the game] on my calendar because I’m a two-way player and I spent time with both teams, so I didn’t know if I’d be called up or not. It’s just one of those things that just happened.”

The Chicago Bulls have signed guard Brandon Sampson to a Two-Way contract. In accordance with team policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed. In a preceding move, the Bulls waived Two-Way player Tyler Ulis. Sampson (6-5, 184) went undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft after playing three seasons at Louisiana State University. He has played in 18 games (18 starts) this season for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA G League, averaging 17.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 35.1 minutes per game. At LSU, Sampson played in 85 games (40 starts) from 2015-18. Over his career with the Tigers, he averaged 7.9 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists, scoring a career-high 24 points twice in the 2016-17 season.

The franchise signed Trier to a two-way contract this summer, which allows him to spend 45 days with the NBA team — a number he’ll soon exhaust. The exact date is murky — Trier gets credit for every day he spends with the Knicks, except travel days and off-days, which can be complex accounting with some latitude and self-policing on what qualifies as a rest day and one with team obligations. It could come as early as Dec. 6 but is more likely to fall somewhere in the week after towards mid-December. At that point the Knicks can leave him in the G League for the rest of the season or sign him to an NBA deal, for which they’d need to clear out a roster spot. The Knicks and Trier have had ongoing discussions on a new contract, according to multiple league sources, one that would take him off a two-way and on a standard NBA deal. The logistics of a contract could be complicated though. Trier, averaging 11.8 points-per-game and 10th in eFG% of all rookies averaging at least 10 minutes a night, has played well enough to earn leverage in talks.

He entered draft night in June with strong expectations that he would be selected by the Knicks. He believed he had received strong indications the Knicks would take him in the second round, with the 36th overall pick. “I don’t want to say it was a promise but it was — I don’t know what’s a guarantee,” he said. “I thought that’s where I was going for sure.” Trier says he was told by the Knicks that if he was still on the board then, they would take him. The Knicks didn’t make a promise to Trier, according to league sources, but did have him in strong consideration for the pick. “I didn’t think I would get past there, honestly,” he said.

The Rockets on Saturday took the first steps toward reducing their regular-season roster to 14 players, waiving players signed to non-guaranteed contracts, and are expected to convert the contracts of impressive rookie Gary Clark and second-round pick Vincent Edwards to two-way deals, two individuals with knowledge of the moves said. The final steps, to put Edwards and Clark on two-way deals, has not been completed, but is expected in the coming days, one person with knowledge of the Rockets’ plans said.

NBA teams are allowed up to two players under two-way contracts. Those players spend the bulk of the season in the G League and a maximum of 45 days with their NBA team. Those players are paid a corresponding daily salary based on the number of days they play in each league. Only players with four NBA seasons of experience or less can sign two-way deals, which can be for either one or two seasons. A player has to be active for one day to get credit for a year of service. While two-way contracts generally go to young players with potential upside, some older players with overseas experience took advantage of the opportunity. C.J. Williams, who previously played in Greece, Italy, France, and the former D League, earned a two-way contract at 27 with the Clippers. “It’s a dream come true, to be honest,” Williams said. “I always wanted to play in the NBA and get an opportunity. It’s not exactly an NBA contract, but at the same time I get an opportunity, and that’s all I can ask for, and I’ve just been enjoying every moment of it, but I know my work isn’t done. I can’t be satisfied with just a two-way contract, I have to work to progress to get more.”

Former Rockets two-way guard Markel Brown, 26, used the two-way contract as an opportunity to return to the NBA. The former second-round draft pick played two seasons for the Nets before spending one season in Russia with BC Khimki. After making substantially more overseas in Russia, Brown returned to the States with the hope of making the NBA again. “On the court, I feel like for overseas there is a lot of competition depending on what league you’re in, depending on what team you go and play for, it’s a lot of competition,” Brown said. “There are a lot of guys that used to be in the NBA that are overseas now, and I think it’s great. Going overseas, being able to make some money to be able to take care of your family, but I think staying in the States and playing in the G League is also good as well. You’ve got great coaches in the G League who are constantly preparing you for their affiliate team, so I think both are great on the court. Off the court, for me, being in Russia the language, food, traveling around trying to venture out and see new things versus being in the States it’s just like being home, so I think it opens up your eyes and makes you more thankful for what you have around you.”

In addition to inconvenient travel plans on a moment’s notice, some agents worried about the physical toll their clients endured and lack of sleep as former Brooklyn Nets two-way player Milton Doyle noted. “It gets crazy sometimes just because you never know when you’re going to get the call,” Doyle said. “Somebody might get hurt or be sick or anything. You might get a call at twelve, one, or two in the morning and they tell you that you’ve got to fly out at 6:00 in the morning. The flight, just to get to the airport — especially in New York — is crazy traffic and then a flight. It just takes a toll on your body with whatever traveling you’re doing.”

Looking ahead, some agents suggested changes to improve the two-way system. Multiple agents said they want the league to eliminate multi-year, two-way deals and limit the number of two-way contracts a team can use per season. “Teams like Milwaukee and Houston had at least four different guys on them (two-way contracts) throughout the year,” one agent said. “They are not being used for ‘development’ players. They’re being used as a way to circumvent the cap and a free (no cap hit) insurance policy against injury.”

The Brooklyn Nets have signed forward/center Alan Williams to a two-way contract. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released. Williams (6’8”, 265) joins Brooklyn after three seasons (2015-18) with the Phoenix Suns. In 62 career games, he averaged 6.4 points and 5.7 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per contest. During the 2017-18 season, Williams appeared in five games, averaging 4.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 14.1 minutes per game. He also appeared in three games with the Northern Arizona Suns of the NBA G League last season, averaging 16.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.0 blocks, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steals in 23.4 minutes per game.

In the Nets press conference Tuesday, Sean Marks said Theo Pinson, the 6’7” swingman out of North Carolina, will likely fill the Brooklyn’s second two-way slot, joining the recently signed Alan Williams. Asked if the Nets had someone in mind for the two-way deal, Marks did everything but confirm Pinson is his guy. “I think we do. It’s staying flexible throughout the year; we’ll see what happens. We do have a guy in mind,” said the Nets GM. “Theo Pinson is gonna be our two-way guy. It hasn’t been out there yet; it probably shouldn’t be.
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