What it Actually Means That Scoot Henderson Was Assigned to the G League
It's not as big a deal as it seems.
PORTLAND, Ore. — The piece of Trail Blazers news that got the most attention on Tuesday had nothing to do with their loss in Phoenix. It had to do with No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson, who has been sidelined since suffering a right ankle sprain and bone bruise during the Nov. 1 win in Detroit.
Two hours and 19 minutes apart, the Blazers’ PR department posted these two updates on “X, The Platform Formerly Known As Twitter”:
ESPN ran a news story about it (they never run news stories about this sort of thing). I got multiple texts from friends asking if they should buy tickets to the Remix’s next home game on Friday.
The confusion makes sense. This is the first year the Blazers have their own G League team, and they used the NBA’s minor league sparingly before that. It’s not something people in this market are used to thinking about on a regular basis. Frankly, I’m still learning all the ins and outs of the rules surrounding assignments, rosters and returning-player rights.
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To answer the first pressing question: No, Henderson is not going to play in any games for the Remix. That was never the plan.
Here’s what actually happened (it’s not as interesting as it seems): Henderson is getting closer to being cleared to play. The organization and medical staff wanted him to get some real on-court work in as part of his ramp-up. Since NBA teams rarely practice during the season due to the travel schedule, he wasn’t going to be able to get that with the Blazers, who traveled to Phoenix for a one-game trip and are at home tonight against the Jazz before heading out on a long road trip. The Remix, meanwhile, are at home for a few days until their next home game on Friday.
So, the Blazers decided that letting Henderson get work done with the Remix’s training staff, who are employees of the Blazers and follow all the same protocols as the big club, would be a more productive use of his time than traveling with the team for 24 hours to sit on the bench for a game he was ruled out of anyway.
The only reason it was publicized at all was because teams are required to follow league protocol to assign and recall players who are signed to regular NBA contracts. The Blazers’ three two-way contract players, Duop Reath, Justin Minaya and Jamaree Bouyea, can go back and forth between the NBA and G League freely without the team having to announce it every time, because the purpose of two-way contracts is for players to split time.
But if you follow the Blazers’ PR account, you’ll have seen near-daily tweets about Kris Murray, Rayan Rupert and Moses Brown being assigned to or recalled from the Remix. That could mean they’re just getting a practice in, or that they’re playing in a game or multiple games. There’s no minimum length of time for a G League assignment, and teams can assign or recall players as much as they want. But they have to announce it every time. It’s no different from MLB teams announcing Triple-A assignments and call-ups, or NFL teams shuffling their practice squads and active rosters.
This is one of the benefits of an NBA team having their own dedicated G League affiliate, and one of the things that makes it all the more illogical that the previous front office never viewed it as a priority. Murray, Rupert and Brown have been playing meaningful minutes on a nightly basis with the Remix, which is better for their development than riding the bench with the Blazers. And Henderson was able to get a real practice in on a day the Blazers were not practicing.
Once upon a time, this stuff wasn’t even worth writing about. This type of routine roster bookkeeping would be a notebook item in the newspaper, or a tweet, and that’s it. But because it’s Henderson, who has been out for a while and whose rookie season was off to a disappointing start after being taken third overall as the heir apparent to Damian Lillard, every scrap of news related to him gets scrutinized and amplified.
The exact timing for Henderson’s return to the court is not yet known. The Blazers are starting to get healthier—Malcolm Brogdon returned to the lineup Tuesday in Phoenix after missing five games with a hamstring injury, and Anfernee Simons is still on track to return from thumb surgery sometime in early- to mid-December on the six-week timeline the team initially laid out.
It’s within the realm of possibility that Henderson could play at some point on the four game post-Thanksgiving road trip that goes to Milwaukee, Indiana, Cleveland and Utah, but that isn’t set in stone. But the fact that the Blazers sent him to the G League for an extra practice is a sign that he’s closer than ever to a return.