OKC Thunder, 1st round pick and NBA's new kind of stash

OKC Thunder, 1st round pick and NBA's new kind of stash
July 24, 2014, 12:45 pm
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Armed with only a mid-second round pick at the time, the Washington Wizards worked out prospects pre-draft that fit that projection. In addition, those with no shot at hearing their name announced by NBA commissioner Adam Silver during the first round of the draft. At the time, Stanford's Josh Huestis arguably fit the criteria for either of those categories.

Ultimately, a dozen or so players that stopped by the Verizon Center were selected at all in the two-round draft (as we know, none by the Wizards who sold their selection). However, one actually was picked in the first round, 29th overall, the next-to-last-selection announced by Silver.

With the second of two first-round picks, Oklahoma City surprised most by taking Huestis, 6-foot-7 senior forward who is considered a good defender and a future role player -- not the type of prospect teams take in round one.

Over the last few days, we've begun to learn why the Thunder took the Stanford product when they did.

Because pre-draft they arraigned for Huestis to forgo signing a contract with the team and yet remain a part of the organization next season. They convinced the Stanford grad to pass on a rookie contract worth at least $734,000 for a D-League deal worth no more than $30,000.

Now, NBA teams will often draft a player with the idea of stashing them overseas for one or more years. The Wizards have this currently with 2012 second-round selection Tomas Satoransky. The young player gains on-court experience/minutes they likely wouldn't receive on the NBA level, but the team retains their rights. Those players also receive contracts that could pay them far more than the D-League maximum contract. 

[RELATED: NBA pundits gush over Wizards' offseason work]

The potential downside is that the player might be part of a system that isn't what his NBA squad runs, which could lead to the pickup of bad habits. This is a prime example of why there has been an increase of direct affiliations between NBA and D-League teams, with the Thunder among the leaders in this movement.

The Thunder frequently send players, including first round picks, to their D-League affiliate in Tulsa for additional work under the tutelage of coaches who are running the same playbook as OKC.

Until now, those first round picks first signed an NBA contract, counted as part of the NBA team's salary cap and the 15-man roster before being shipped to the minors for days or weeks at a time. That's what makes Huestis' situation unique. The pre-draft arraignment, as stated by Huestis' agent this week, ensured the small forward would get drafted and that the Thunder would not be on the hook for contract or playing spot this coming season.

The potential issue, based on the NBA by-laws, is that teams can "have preliminary discussions with players eligible for the Draft, but may not discuss the matter of compensation" before the draft. 

So how did OKC and Huestis' representative's work out this arraignment without violating this rule? That's a question pondered by ProBasketballTalk.com's Dan Feldman and others.

This is a topic worth keeping an eye on, both in terms of whether rules were broken and if not, whether the Thunder started a new stash trend.