Q. In the process of getting down to the required number, will the Pacers use the Developmental League in any way? If either one of the rookies go there, will the Pacers still pay them the contract money they agreed to? Or would they be considered cut and available to the rest of the league? Can the Pacers call them up if someone gets injured? How does all this work with the salary cap and guaranteed contracts? I guess that's much more than one question but you can answer them how you want. (From Rex in Belvidere, Ill.)
A. With 17 players on the roster and two cuts to be made before the regular-season opener next Wednesday, there's a lot of curiosity about the Pacers' options pertaining to the D-League. Unfortunately, it doesn't offer a solution to roster overcrowding. Only players on the 15-man roster can be assigned to the D-League affiliate, which is in Albuquerque, N.M. They therefore would remain on their normal NBA contracts and receive full compensation, even while playing in the D-League.
Though each D-League team has multiple affiliates (the Pacers share Albuquerque with Cleveland and Phoenix), the NBA teams can't share players. In other words, if the Pacers sent down Shawne Williams, they're the only team that could call him up. Though an argument can be made for the benefits of having young players exposed to as much game experience as possible, even at the D-League level, there are a couple of prominent deterrents to making the assignment, at least from the Pacers' perspective.
One would be logistical. If a player got injured and the Pacers needed to call up a player for that night's game, getting him to Indianapolis – or most NBA cities – wouldn't exactly be a straight shot from Albuquerque. From that standpoint, it's much more practical to have the player already on hand, schooled in Rick Carlisle's system and therefore more ready to be plugged in if needed. The other is the developmental aspect. The Pacers believe their young players are better off practicing with their coaching staff, in their system, against bigger, stronger and quicker NBA players, than getting minutes in the D-League.