The Sixers are no stranger to exploiting loopholes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Granted that these loopholes can be leveraged to their competitive advantage, they're always looking to get a leg up over their opponents, whether it be in terms of roster-building, finances or other forms of team flexibility.
According to RealGM's Shams Charania, the team is interested in exploring a similar type of maneuver: the domestic draft-and-stash, with Delaware 87ers forward Jamal Jones.
In his move out of the D-League and to the June draft, forward Jamal Jones could become the NBA’s next domestic draft-and-stash player with the affiliate organization that has plans to work him out and seriously consider him with six second-round picks: the Philadelphia 76ers.
Jones, a 6-foot-8 product, left Texas A&M a season ago with a year of college eligibility and entered the D-League draft. He was a second round selection by Delaware.
The 76ers will soon work out Jones, who is aware of the franchise’s interest and its possibility to make him a domestic draft-and-stash. If Philadelphia were to place Jones in the D-League, it would follow the stash of Josh Huestis, the No. 29 pick in the 2014 draft and arranged to play with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s affiliate for at least one season.
As Charania notes, the Thunder first brought this loophole to light last season after arranging an agreement with Huestis prior to the Draft. As a fringe first-rounder, he would get a promise of eventual guaranteed money through the NBA's rookie scale (which would guarantee him roughly $1.5 million over two years, followed by two team options). But, it was under the condition that he delay signing that contract and join the D-League for a year first.
Given that the deal was pre-arranged, it had the upside to be a win-win. It left Oklahoma City extra room to operate below the luxury tax in the short-term (which they would eventually exceed with the trade for Enes Kanter). For small-market organizations like the Thunder, every penny counts.
Meanwhile, it was a pledge to Huestis that he would, one day, see guaranteed NBA money, which surely beats the alternative. Second-round picks often aren't fortunate enough to reap the benefits of guaranteed contracts, and this would allow him the chance to see at least one sizable payday.
If the Sixers were to go this route, however, it likely wouldn't be for the benefit of financial flexibility. The team already has plenty of that, and given that he'd be a second-round selection, he wouldn't be making the gamble for the sake of guaranteed money down the line. It would be, rather, for roster flexibility.
With five players looking at guaranteed money next year, diamonds in the rough like Covington worthy of a return ticket, seven scheduled incoming draft picks in June and a heap of overseas stashes, the Sixers are actually a bit strapped for room. The league allows a maximum of 15 roster spots. So, not only is it incredibly unlikely that the Sixers use all six of their second-round picks this year, but it's even less likely that all of their draft selections are actually playing for the team come November. As a player who could otherwise go un-drafted, Jones would be incentivized by the opportunity to potentially play for an NBA team down the road.
The challenge could be convincing Jones, or any other player for that matter, to settle for a D-League contract in the short-term. They're typically in the neighborhood of $25K per year, which is preposterous in a multi-billion dollar industry. But if they have a tight enough rapport with the organization that drafts them, and enough of a reason to believe they could eventually make the team, it could stand to be a beneficial option for players who are bound to go un-drafted.
In essence, a domestic draft-and-stash would allow them the flexibility to add another prospect without having to use a roster spot to accommodate that player. It's no different than stowing a player away internationally, in that respect. Meanwhile, they'd be able to monitor his progress nearby in Delaware while he works his way towards hopefully signing an NBA contract. Once the season's over and there's room for him to join the 15-man roster, he'd have the chance to do so.
The situation for Jones, or any other prospect the Sixers are interested in stashing domestically, would clearly be different than the circumstances Josh Huestis walked in to. Instead of delaying a guaranteed NBA contract to gamble on himself, Jones would, in all likelihood, be gambling on himself in the hopes of one day just joining the team. Nonetheless, the domestic stash would be a team-friendly, and potentially player-friendly route for the Sixers to go in. With a surplus of draft picks, seemingly limited roster room and an enormous crop of players willing to bet on themselves, it should surprise no one if they give this newly discovered method a try.