As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to affect how the NBA operates during the 2020-21 season, a big topic of conversation has been its handling of players on a two-way contract.
The NBA first implemented two-way contracts in the 2017 season, allowing rosters to expand from 15 to 17 players. The two players assigned to two-way deals would play primarily for the team’s G League affiliate and no more than 45 days with the first team.
But the pandemic, which has caused many game postponements and players missing games due to health and safety protocols, made the NBA change things. In a 72-game season, two-way players could play in 50 of them.
However, the league is now planning to remove the 50-game limit in its entirety with other changes, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania:
Sources: The NBA and NBPA are planning to eliminate the 50-game limit for two-way contract players this season and to allow two-way players to be eligible for the playoffs, pending Board approval.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 2, 2021
The league is also working to allow those players to be eligible to play in playoff games if their team qualifies, which would improve team depth in a precarious situation.
For the Los Angeles Lakers, that could mean minutes for Devontae Cacok and Kostas Antetokounmpo if the team finds themselves in search of additional depth.
Both players, however, haven’t stepped on the floor on very many occasions, which Frank Vogel recently said was by design in order to preserve their 50-game limit to the second half of the season. Now that the NBA may be doing away with the rule though, that could change things.
Cacok, 24, has played in just four games, and Antetokounmpo, 23, in only three this season. All of the minutes have materialized in garbage time situations, so real developmental opportunities have been difficult to come by for the two.
Minutes should be even more scarce as the Lakers recently signed Damian Jones to a 10-day contract, and after an impressive outing against the Golden State Warriors, teammates believe Jones could stay with the team longer.
NBA releases second-half schedule
The league usually released the full-season schedule before the season fully commenced, but because of the pandemic, they opted to hold onto the second-half portion until it was okay to do so.
The Lakers will have an extremely arduous schedule awaiting them once the All-Star break concludes.
Tough slates include eight back-to-backs throughout the schedule and traveling on the road for 11 games in a 14-game stretch, with two of those three contests at home against the Utah Jazz. If Los Angeles hopes to claim the number one seed in the Western Conference, it’ll be a laborious uphill battle.
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