In today’s paper I wrote about Eric Maynor having no interest in a D-League assignment.
As a fourth-year player, Maynor has a choice in the matter.
Rookie guard Jeremy Lamb did not, and the Thunder’s promising young shooting guard initially wasn’t hrilled to find out he was bound for Tulsa, according to NBA.com.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t really happy when they first came and told me that they wanted me to play in the D-League,” he said. “I mean, you come out of college and get drafted and the thrill and the expectation is that you’re in the NBA.”
After a wildly successful two-year stint at UConn, where he won a national championship as a freshman and earned All-Big East honors in his second and final seasons, Lamb went on to become the 12th overall pick in the NBA Draft. After the Houston Rockets selected him, Lamb likely never thought Tulsa would be a place he’d be playing.
It wasn’t until he joined the 66ers that Lamb finally warmed up to the idea.
You’re hearing what they’re saying when they tell you about the D-League and how it can help. Still it’s pretty hard not to feel like you’ve been demoted. But once I got to Tulsa and got [to] play a few games and get plenty of minutes, I could understand the value and it’s made a lot of sense.”
Lamb made those statements from Reno, Nev., where he is participating in the D-League showcase while currently on assignment in Tulsa. Despite the fact that NBA teams are embracing the D-League more than ever, players like Lamb must still overcome the supposed stigma of how being sent down is a demotion.
It likely plays a part in why Maynor has no desire to make his way up the turnpike. If a rookie deems it demeaning, how does a four-year veteran who once was described as one of the league’s best floor generals view it?
But whether players like it or not, the NBA continues gravitating toward integrating the D-League in daily operations. Each year, the D-League is becoming more like baseball’s Triple-A feeder system. More NBA franchises are purchasing D-League teams to be their sole affiliate, players are being shuttled back and forth in record numbers and veteran rehab assignments such as the one Amar’e Stoudemire recently accepted likely will become commonplace. As a result of all these things, the league is as competitive as it’s ever been.
Someday, perhaps someday soon, the D-League truly will be seen as a place players go because their teams are interested in developing them, not demoting them.