Finally, the Indiana Pacers plan to utilize their NBDL affiliate in Fort Wayne by sending rookies Miles Plumlee, Orlando Johnson and Ben Hansbrough to play for the Mad Ants at different times during the season.
The NBA allows teams to assign rookies or second-year players to their D-League affiliate. Players can stay with the D-League team for as long as the NBA team wants, and return to the NBA at any time. According to Pacers.com, Frank Vogel is comfortable farming out the rookies since his veteran playing rotation shouldn't afford the young players much court time barring any injuries.
"(Ben Hansbrough), Orlando (Johnson) and Miles (Plumlee) are just depth on our team right now," Coach Vogel explained Monday after practice. "They are not in the everyday playing rotation. They got to work to stay ready. They'll probably all see some time in the D-League this year just to keep them sharp. If we have injuries, they'll play."
"We haven't had a veteran team like this where our rookies aren't going to be in the rotation. In the past, our rookies were rotation guys so they needed to be here with us as much as possible."
Well, technically that's true. The Pacers didn't have such a veteran team with a solid playing rotation. But over the past couple of years, Lance Stephenson seemed like a prime candidate for some D-League seasoning. Instead the Pacers preferred to keep Stephenson close to the vest and under the organization's supervision at the Fieldhouse.
Regardless, this is great news that the Pacers are going to utilize their D-League affiliate as a more true minor league affiliate and give the young players a chance to develop on the court and/or reveal where they may fit in the team's future plans.