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The Lakers are reportedly planning to bring their two-way players to Disney World

Despite some uncertainty in the reporting on if two-way players will be allowed in the NBA bubble from the start, the Lakers are apparently planning on taking Kostas Antetokounmpo and Devontae Cacok to Disney World.

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Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

There has been some uncertainty over whether or not NBA teams will be allowed to bring their players on two-way contracts — deals that allow players to spend up to 45 days with an NBA team and the rest in the G League, without counting for a full spot on team’s 15-player rosters — to Disney World when the Lakers and the rest of the league resumes play their in July.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of ESPN reported over the weekend that teams are lobbying to be able to bring their two-way players to Orlando from the start, but that the league doesn’t want to allow it initially, citing that doing so would bring 44 extra people into the bubble environment when it will already be crowded with 22 teams to start.

However, it sounds like as the Lakers make their plans to head out to Orlando, they’re including their own pair of two-way players, Devontae Cacok and Kostas Antetokounmpo, according to Broderick Turner of the L.A. Times (emphasis mine):

The league informed teams they will be allowed to travel with about 35 people, including players, as a way to hopefully reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections. The Lakers will take 17 players, which includes two two-way players, to Walt Disney World, which is where teams will stay in mostly secluded hotels that are on the campus of ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex.

This is an interesting development, and not just for the Lakers. Under normal rules, NBA teams are not allowed to make their two-way players eligible for the playoffs (via Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ):

A Two-Way player can’t appear on the NBA team’s playoff roster or play in a playoff game, but he can be on the NBA team’s Inactive List during the playoffs, can travel and practice with the NBA team.

But it sounds like — given the threat of coronavirus sidelining important players for the playoffs — the NBA is planning to modify this rule in Orlando. Whether the league acquiesces on letting teams to bring two-way players initially or not, it sounds like there is already a plan in place to let them be eligible once teams reach the postseason (via ESPN, emphasis mine):

Teams want the roster flexibility to keep two-way players living, training and isolated with teams in Orlando. Under the current proposal, players would be made to rejoin teams in the playoffs without having practiced with teams since early March. Once the postseason starts, teams could no longer add free agents — only call up the two-way players.

With teams expected to play every other day in the playoffs, including some instances of back-to-back games, many organizations are struggling to imagine how two-way players could travel to Orlando to play soon enough — or be prepared well enough — to make a timely impact.

That is a change from the current rules, but a sensible one. With the league trying to keep everyone isolated in a bubble, but having the potential to lose players for weeks if they have to isolate with coronavirus, having two-way players available as part of an expanded roster at least makes it less likely that teams would run out of players and have to forfeit if injuries or illness strikes. That’s obviously the darkest timeline, but the league needs to prepare for every eventuality.

With Antetokounmpo and Cacok, the Lakers would add depth to their front court, as both players are probably strictly centers at the NBA level, albeit slightly smaller ones at 6’10 and 6’7, respectively. Cacok in particular has had an impressive year, going from impressing the Lakers enough that the team made him one of the few two-way players in the league on a two-year contract to winning our sister site Ridiculous Upside’s G League Rookie of the Year award.

As an energy big who has said he tries to model himself after undersized Clippers center Montrezl Harrell, Cacok could give the Lakers an infusion of rebounding, energy and hustle if called upon during the postseason, or to give them some minutes after they’ve locked up seeding over their eight regular season games. It should also be noted that despite spending almost all of his rookie season in the G League, 2019 second-round pick Talen Horton-Tucker is a full member of the Lakers’ roster and would be eligible to play in Orlando no matter what the league does.

Will he or either of his two-way teammates be called upon to actually make an impact at Disney World? If they are — beyond a situation where the Lakers have locked up seeding and just need people to sponge minutes — it likely means something has went significantly wrong for the purple and gold, and that’s no slight to either of the two-way guys or Horton-Tucker. It’s just that the Lakers have been really good this year while leaning on their veterans, and if all goes according to plan will likely continue to do so in Orlando. But with this news, they will at least be slightly more ready to whether the storm should something go wrong, which is a positive development as far as contingency plans go.

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