This upcoming NBA G League season is special in many ways. The NBAGL continues to grow as the league inches closer to the 30-for-30 model. An all-time high 26 teams are set to compete in the G League this season. That list doesn’t (yet) include the Washington Wizards, who are joining the league in the 2018-19 season. The New Orleans Pelicans are also reportedly looking to launch a team in the same season.
Westchester head coach Mike Miller believes when the league gets to 30 teams, there could be another shift on the way.
“Every day it keeps gets closer to the phrase ’30-for-30′,” Miller said at the team’s media day. “When I think it gets to 30-for-30, you’re going to see another little shift in the league with how it’s put together and how the draft potentially [operates]. In the baseball model, you develop your own players. Is that the next step coming? I’m just speaking off the top, because it is about the development and helping these players. It’s important to all the NBA teams to have a chance to look in their own system and see a guy that’s developed that can help the team.”
Along with four new teams entering the league, this is the first season where players can be signed to a two-way contract. This pact adds two other players to each team. While both players are able to spend up to 45 days with their NBA club, they will spend the majority of the season in the NBA G League. If a player outperforms his contract, the deal could turn into a standard contract based off the years of experience.
The two-way contract is beneficial in many ways. It gives an opportunity to 60 more players. When it comes to the Knicks, these players could end up helping New York win games.
“I think the two-way program is a great idea and one of the main reasons: it gives us a chance to keep some talent that we’ve been losing to Europe, and other places, here in the United States,” Westchester Vice President of Player Development & G League operations Craig Robinson said. “It gives 60 more guys an opportunity to play in the NBA. Then finally, you’re getting two more Knick players better that could end up winning some games for you at the Garden.”
Those players, in this case are Luke Kornet and Isaiah Hicks. Both will have an opportunity to develop and hone their skills in the G League while staying prepared for when the Knicks call them over.
Kornet signed the two-way deal following the 2017 NBA Draft. The Knicks kept one spot open for the majority of the offseason and found a talented player coming off a NCAA Championship in Isaiah Hicks. Along with the talent both players possess, both Kornet and Hicks will be significant contributors in Westchester.
“Fortunately, Luke [Kornet] made a commitment early and we wanted to see how it evolved and see how it played out,” Westchester GM Allan Houston said. “We wanted to keep one available to just to see, and fortunately, it worked out for us. We were able to acquire Isaiah [Hicks]. I think a lot of teams are going to try to explore and try to figure out the best way to utilize it to their advantage.”
In the past, Westchester has developed players like Langston Galloway and Chasson Randle. Following their stints in the NBAGL, both players were able to make a transition to the New York Knicks upon their arrival. With teams finding talent and developing them in their organization, it’s a step towards an one-to-one affiliation.
“This is a very sound transition towards one-to-one [affiliation],” Houston said. “You develop and have players like Langston [Galloway and] Chasson Randle.”
The NBA G League is headed in the right direction with expansion, rebranding, and the addition of two-way contracts. As the league continues to grow, expect more changes to come as the NBAGL becomes a true minor league system for the NBA.