The NBA is eliminating restrictions on recruiting and acquiring veteran free agents for G League rosters, according to a memo to teams obtained by ESPN.
Eliminating these restrictions will ease the process for NBA free agents with five years of service or more to join G League teams and be part of COVID-19 testing protocols, allowing them to more quickly be integrated into NBA rosters should the need arise due to a coronavirus outbreak.
Over 100 players with NBA experience remain unsigned in the free-agent pool, including well-known veterans such as Kyle Korver, Dewayne Dedmon, Shabazz Napier, Emmanuel Mudiay, Jeremy Lin, Gerald Green, DeMarre Carroll and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
G League teams have been frustrated in the past by complex rules governing their ability to add players to their roster through a rotating waiver pool.
This new rule will allow teams to designate one "NBA Vet selection" for assignment to one of their 10 roster spots, allowing NBA teams to directly recruit players they have interest in to the G League teams rather than waiting for them to enter the pool.
Players and agents will now have significantly more control over their destinations, which should make the G League more attractive, especially with the shortened schedule caused by the pandemic.
Seventeen G League teams indicated their intent to participate in a single-site tournament "bubble" in February at a deadline set for Wednesday. G League teams say they expect to play at least a dozen games, not including the playoffs. Atlanta has been mentioned as one possible location for this tournament, but discussions are ongoing with other cities as well, a source said.
The inclusion of the G League Ignite roster, a team of draft-eligible prospects led by Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, both projected top-five picks in the 2021 NBA draft, should add significant intrigue to the tournament, both from NBA executives and the general public.
A source told ESPN that a G League draft will be conducted in January, dispersing the players whose rights are owned by G League teams that opted not to play in the bubble. Players who signed Exhibit 10 contracts with NBA teams whose affiliate G League teams will not participate in the single-site tournament can be loaned to a G League team that opted in (with their original NBA team paying for their expenses). This arrangement will take place with the four players signed to Exhibit 10 contracts and waived by the Washington Wizards, as they will be "flexed" to the New Orleans Pelicans' G League team, the Erie Bayhawks.
Should a NBA team elect not to "flex" and cover the testing, medical and accommodation expenses for their Exhibit 10 contract players, they will go into the pool of players eligible for the G League draft in January.
NBA teams will be covering the expenses for each member of their G League affiliate team's traveling party in the single-site bubble, which includes daily COVID-19 testing, food and on-site medical care, which will cost approximately $25,000 per person, or around $400,000 to $500,000 per team.
While exact details are still being worked out, G League teams expect to gather in local markets in mid-January, arrive at the location of the bubble a week later, and then start playing tournament games around Feb. 8. Playoffs are expected to be conducted in the first week of March.
Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and International teams.