As the NBA CBA negotiations loom closer, Carmelo Anthony has an idea about how the NBA should develop young players even further: re-brand the NBA’s D-League.
“If I had it my way, I’d rebrand the whole D-League,” Anthony told ESPN. “I’d rebrand it so it’s not seen as a punishment.”
The name “D-League” doesn’t sound the most appetizing, to be fair. Anthony is the NBAPA’s Vice President, so he has a keen interest in pushing investment in the D-League to create more jobs for younger players while also strengthening the league’s development pipeline. Both sides are growing increasingly optimistic that a new agreement can be hammered out before the union’s opt-out deadline on December 15th.
One of the ways Anthony believes the D-League can be strengthened is increasing the number of “two-way contracts” that allow players to play in both leagues without cap penalties, which would potentially create up to 60 more jobs. Increasing pay at D-League teams is also an option, which would entice players to stay at home rather than signing with clubs abroad. The D-League will grow to 22 teams this year, and Anthony hopes eventually there will be 30 D-League clubs for each of the NBA squads.
“I’m a big advocate of developing our own players. If you look at soccer, for example, a lot of those clubs have top-notch academies,” said Anthony, who co-owns a professional team in Puerto Rico. “By me being in soccer now, I’ve started to understand the dynamics of developing your own players. We’ve got to keep our players here. We don’t want them to have to go overseas.”
As the NBA continues to push for a player development model closer to that of the NHL and MLB, it’s quite possible that a strengthening of the D-League could easily push the NBA closer to that. Of course, this is just one prong of a wide range of topics in the upcoming CBA negotiations, but an important part however you slice it.