When the Timberwolves signed swingman Reggie Jordan of the Continental Basketball Association's Sioux Falls Skyforce to a 10-day contract on March 19, the move marked a record 39th time this season that an NBA team has mined the CBA for talent. Several of the call-ups have become starters, such as Hawks forward Henry James and Mavericks guard Erick Strickland. Throw in those former CBA players who began the season in the NBA like Rockets guard Matt Maloney, and it's clear the 11-team league is stronger than ever.
The CBA has become a prime place to showcase one's skills for several reasons: The money for U.S. players abroad has dried up, and salary cap limitations have forced NBA teams to become bargain hunters. The CBA might be even more useful if it were to evolve into a baseball-style minor league, with each team serving as an NBA affiliate. Although NBA executives have discussed such an arrangement, working out the financial details has proved nettlesome, and the NBA Players Association doesn't want teams banishing its members to, say, Sioux Falls. There's also the matter of how to distribute 11 CBA affiliates among the 29 NBA teams. "I think there's a lot of merit to it, but I also understand the economics [against it]," says Portland president Bob Whitsitt. "I'm sure it will continue to be discussed."