Daniel Hamilton didn’t really know what it meant. The second-year guard out of Connecticut had to go back and check with his agent when he was told the Oklahoma City Thunder were signing him to a two-way contract.
“It’s kind of new so nobody knew what to expect,” Hamilton said. “But my agent had broke it down to me. Told me what the offer is. He told me what it was and I just thought it would be a great idea for me to go along with it.”
Hamilton wasn’t the only one who was unsure what being a two-way player meant. He just knew it was a great opportunity for him.
“I just feel like it is a great experience for me to play with the Thunder.,” Hamilton said. “And I get better when I go against those guys in practice. Even in training camp I felt I got better. I was just comfortable out there.”
The 2017-18 season is the first season of the two-way contracts in the NBA. Each team in the league may have up to two players. They could also have none.
A two-way player may spend no more than 45 total days with an NBA franchise. That includes travels days, practice days and game day.
Most players who sign two-way contracts will spend most of the time with the G-League team they have signed with.
According to the NBA, two-way players are paid a corresponding daily amount based on the number of days they play in each league. Only players with four or fewer years of NBA service are able to sign Two-Way Contracts, which can be for either one or two seasons.
Along with Hamilton, the Thunder also signed P.J Dozier to a Two-Way contract. Dozier is in his first season out of South Carolina and was signed to the Thunder/Blue late in training camp.
But, according to Dozier, the designation of being a two-way player, doesn’t change his outlook.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do,” Dozier said. “That’s it. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to the season for both teams. Whenever I’m with the Thunder, I’m going to be ready to go. Try to continue to learn from those guys. Same thing here. We have a great group. We have older guys we can learn from to.”
In the past, according to NBA rules, players who were signed to an NBA team were allowed to go back and forth to the D-League as many times as they wanted. The Thunder used the system liberally with players such as Josh Huestis, Reggie Jackson and Perry Jones.
NBA teams can still use their rosters in the same way, but with the addition of two-way contracts, you could see that phasing its way out.
“It affects the whole league,” Blue coach Mark Daigneault said. “I think one thing that’s given us an advantage is that we’ve had a lot of players, who are draft rights players. Over the last three years we’ve had four guys we’ve drafted and have spent a year here. That’s given us a pretty good model for how we work with the two-way players when they are with us. So that’s been a huge advantage for us. I can’t say that a lot of things are going to change other than the amount of exposure that Daniel and PJ have with the Thunder. In the past, our guys have never been able to go through training camp and that was a really valuable experience for Daniel.”
Besides the experience the players get being able to spend time on an NBA roster, it’s the lessons they get from the players that may be the biggest benefit for the two-way players.
“It paints a picture for him on where he wants to end up,” Daigneault said. “It shows him what’s he’s going to need to be able to do. It gives him feedback. I think there were moments from that that gave him confidence. I think there are moments that gave him some humility, like any other rookie. And I think them going to the Thunder throughout the course of the season and check back in, gives the Thunder a great opportunity to know them and gives them a great opportunity to know the Thunder. We’re excited how they have loosened the way you can use your G-League program.”
For a player like Dozier the scope of what he is walking into as a two-way player could be daunting.
“I think it will be a little different,” Dozier said. “But this organization does a great job. Everybody is tied in. We all have the same mindset, same goals. We are all on one page. So think it will be fairly easy to do.”