Title: Raptors signing Lorenzo Brown might signal NBA-focused two-way contract strategy
Date: July 26, 2017
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I looked at how the Raptors have used their two-way roster spots and what it may signal about their plans for their primary NBA roster.
The landscape for the NBA’s new two-way contracts hasn’t settled yet. Nearly a month after the hybrid roster spots came into effect, only 29 players have signed or are rumoured to have signed two-way agreements (per the 2 Ways and 10 Days tracker), doing so with only 22 teams. The uncertainty around the new team-building tool – what type of players would sign them, how teams would try to use them, whether second-round picks might favour or avoid them – still exists, and likely will until teams and agents have had a full go-around and the market is more established next summer.
The Toronto Raptors, though, have worked swiftly to use their pair of two-way roster spots. In signing Malcolm Miller in early July and moving on Tuesday to lock up Lorenzo Brown, the Raptors have filled both slots and, more notably, may have signalled that they intend to use those roster spots as much to supplement the NBA roster as to continue expanding their player development program.
As a refresher, players on these two-way deals can spend up to 45 days in the NBA, plus any time before the beginning of G-League training camp and the end of the G-League regular season. The rest of their time will be spent in the G-League. A tiered salary structure can pay those players upwards of $271,000 if they spend the maximum amount of time on the NBA roster, and the NBA team holds the option to convert the contract to a standard NBA deal at the appropriate minimum salary at any point.
At the outset, it seemed these new roster spots were a great way to continue putting a league-wide emphasis on player development. No longer would teams be at risk of developing talent in the G-League only to see the player scooped up by another NBA team and reap the benefits. Raptors 905 lost Axel Toupane (three times), Greg Smith, and Edy Tavares to call-ups over their first two seasons, for example. There are benefits to building a strong development program and helping players succeed in general, the impact on the NBA Raptors is largely intangible, like in helping the team attract future developmental free agents.