Photo credit: MattAzevedo.com
It is next to impossible to have continuity in the G-League, even if you’re a championship team. There are simply too many overseas offers, too much money to be had elsewhere, and too big a risk of stagnancy for players on the fringes of the NBA to stay in one place for too long. Keep moving or get run over, and all of that.
It’s understandable, then, that Brady Heslip has leveraged a terrific season with the 905 into a deal with Tranzonspor of the Turkish League, as the team announced Thursday.
Heslip was instrumental in the 905’s push to a title, hitting the second-most threes ever in a G-League season and averaging 16.1 points and 2.9 assists on 44.5/41.8/87.0 shooting. He took strides as a point guard, too, and while his defense will always be a limitation, it was the best his all-around game has looked as a pro. That was enough to get him a look with the Chicago Bulls in Las Vegas Summer League, and he shook off three poor shooting nights to score 42 points over his final two, hitting 12-of-23 on threes. That doesn’t appear to have been enough to entice an NBA team to give him a contract, and Heslip moving swiftly to sign overseas and find a good fit and a nice payday makes sense.
The man Jerry Stackhouse claims might be the best shooter in the world should return to being a major player on the international scene, where he’s previously had strong seasons in Bosnia and Italy. It’s perhaps a little disappointing he didn’t receive a longer NBA look, and he kind of remains “the line” that separates NBA players from non-NBA players, possessing one elite NBA skill but without the supporting skills to make him worth a flier. He could help an NBA team in a specialist role, to be clear, but at 27, he’s probably on the wrong side of the line teams would draw for using a two-way contract (and the $75,000-$279,000 range may not have been enough to get him to stay, anyway). This pushes a potential NBA breakthrough down the line a year, but it’s not as if Heslip’s shooting touch is going away anytime soon.
The 905 will retain Heslip’s returning player rights in the event he makes a G-League return in the next two years.
This could kick off what should be an offseason heavy on turnover for the 905. Will Sheehey and E.J. Singler are not expected back with the team, and several of the other high-end names have already signed overseas. Here’s how the 905’s returning player rights list looks entering the summer:
The 905 could lose up to two more players from this last in the Aug. 23 expansion draft, where three news teams will select rosters from the existing 23. The 905 took an interesting approach with their expansion draft two seasons ago, selecting a lot of players for the purpose of helping facilitate trades later, using only Scott Suggs in the first year and adding Sheehey and C.J. Leslie the year after.
The G-League draft generally takes place in late October, shortly before the start of training camps. The 905 own all of their 2017 picks, plus a third-round pick from Fort Wayne. There will also be open tryouts sometime in September, from which the 905 can add four players if they go undrafted. They should have regular access to the Raptors’ two-way players (Malcolm Miller and a second to be signed), as well as potential NBA assignees like OG Anunoby, Bruno Caboclo, and Alfonzo McKinnie, and the Raptors can make up to four players Affiliate Players after camp, with Kennedy Meeks standing at the top of the list of potential names there.
There’s a busy offseason to come now that a lot of the work with the parent club has wrapped up. The G-League is damn near impossible to manage, even when you’re the champs.