Melo may need time to mold in Maine.
Matt Moore points out that the league is under-utilizing the D-League. There are 19 teams that are sharing a D-League team with other teams and all 19 are spread among just 5 teams. Each team has to handle their own expenses and all that, but it seems penny wise and dollar foolish not to do at least a hybrid ownership of a D-League team so that the parent team can control the running of the team the way they want to.
The NBA D-League needs to become a true minor-league system, a goal its had since its inception, and one that it’s moved much closer to over the past half-decade. But to get there, the rest of the league has to get over its phobia and understand the potential that’s there. It doesn’t need to be a joke for a top-ten pick to get sent down. If it’s a project big man (*COUGH* ANDRE DRUMMOND* COUGH*) spending a year dominating inferior competition and working on his strength training might be better than throwing him to the wolves right off the bat. The league needs to wake up and realize what’s happening and quit allowing its competition to run circles around it. You’ve got assets. Use them.
The Celtics are one team that has taken advantage of the system. They now have full control over the operation of the Maine Red Claws. That might be key for someone like Fab Melo, so he can have a consistent message from day one. While it isn't a true minor-league as it might be in baseball where they would control the rights to everyone in the system, it does give the Celtics a good long look at guys that they might want to add to the roster in future years.
Jamar Smith is a good example of a guy that the Celtics liked on the Red Claws, and offered a non-guaranteed contract this summer. Even if he doesn't make the cut in the Fall, his participation in Maine could be key down the road.
Even if he doesn't make the regular-season roster, Smith could be a prime candidate for a spot with the now Celtics-controlled Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League (keeping him in Boston's now streamlined system and making him an option for an emergency in-season call-up to the parent squad).
The D-League is always going to be filled with undrafted guys that can't quite make big league rosters. But smart teams will use it to develop top talent and find diamonds in the rough.