Thabeet is the highest draft pick ever sent to the D-League by an NBA team. A team can assign players to D-League duty only during their first two seasons as a pro.
Thabeet's assignment to the Dakota Wizards -- Memphis' North Dakota-based affiliate -- was first reported by the Web site RidiculousUpside.com, which covers the D-League extensively. Before the team's announcement, two sources close to the situation confirmed Thabeet's impending D-League stint to ESPN.com.
Although the Grizzlies acknowledged that Thabeet was a long-term project when they selected him with the No. 2 pick in June over the likes of local collegiate star Tyreke Evans, Memphis was hoping that the 7-foot-3 center could survive as a backup in his first NBA season. But Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins announced earlier this week that second-year center Hamed Haddadi of Iran would begin receiving Thabeet's minutes behind starting center Marc Gasol.
The Grizzlies, according to NBA front-office sources, offered Thabeet and second-year guard O.J. Mayo to the Golden State Warriors for Warriors guard Monta Ellis before the Feb. 18 trade deadline but were turned down.
Thabeet, 23, is averaging just 2.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 10.3 minutes per game for the Grizzlies and supplants Portland's Martell Webster -- who played eight games for the now-defunct Fort Worth Flyers in the D-League in 2005-06 as the No. 6 overall pick in the draft -- as the highest draftee ever to play in the NBA's official minor league.
Senior writer Marc Stein covers the NBA for ESPN.com.