That’s not entirely true. While the NBA Development League‘s Draft was conducted in the near secret of almost-total media silence, it was — more accurately — conducted via conference call, with different teams sending in their picks from sports bars in their cities of origin. By 7pm EST, the Fayetteville Patriots front office was set up at Sports USA sports bar in Ft. Bragg, NC; the Fort Worth Flight‘s staff was ensconced in the local branch of Southwestern faux-English pub chain Fox and Hounds… and they were all waiting on the Florida Flame, who would make the league’s first pick from their perch in the war room/tap room at Grills of Naples, in Naples, FL.
The Flame took former Seton Hall point guard Andre Barrett (above) — replacing last year’s Flame starter Smush Parker, currently starting for the Lakers — and it was all pretty much downhill from there. Even the hardest-dying of die-hard basketball fans would have a hard time recognizing more than a few of the players drafted, but the list included at least one former starting NBA point guard, two undersized forwards from the University of Kentucky, and Yuta Tabuse. And former streetballer Corey “Homicide” Williams. And Nigel Dixon, who is 6’11″, 320, and claims to have lost 100 pounds since enrolling at Florida State four years ago. So actually it was pretty interesting. Well, to some.
Still unclear is how and whether NBA teams will render rookies unto this minor league — NBA teams have affiliations with NBDL clubs, and each NBA team can send down two players up to three times per year. The system is not unlike NFL Europe, except that fewer Florida Flame fans speak proper English than do followers of the Berlin Thunder. But the NBA has been pretty rigid about who can be assigned to teams, and NBA clubs have not yet announced who’s getting sent down — and may not send down anyone. The NBA’s insistence that teams can only render players with “zero or one” years of service even cost little-used former Timberwolves draft pick Ndudi Ebi a job.
The good news: team tryouts are at least intense enough to filter out writers for the Albuquerque Tribune.