Long before the NBA D-League rebranded as the G League (I mean, it was just last year), the NBA’s minor league has flown way, way too far under the national radar. Texas Legends coach Bob MacKinnon refers to the G League as the second best basketball league in the world, and the basketball world is finally starting to see it that way, too.

Compared to football or baseball, basketball rosters are limited. For years, teams carried no more than 15 players. Last season, that all changed with two-way and Exhibit 10 contracts.

The Dallas Mavericks have been at the forefront in utilizing the extra roster space, further expanding on the symbiotic relationship with their G League affiliate Legends.

Last season, Gian Clavell went from an Exhibit 10 deal to a two-way and the organization kept both two-way slots filled for the entire season.

We’ve talked two-ways, but let’s dive in on the stylishly-named “E-10” deal.

Al Whitley is entering his 18th year in the Mavs organization. For 17 years, he held the “Director of Team Services” title. His boss, and team owner Mark Cuban, is now majority owner of the Legends and one of many moves he’s made has been to appoint Whitley as part of the Basketball Operations staff in Frisco.

Whitley, who has been with the organization as long as the American Airlines Center, knows the NBA rulebook cover to cover and is the man to ask about Exhibit 10 contracts. So I did.

“NBA teams are allowed to bring in up to 20 players for training camp and Exhibit 10 allows players to audition for a spot on the regular roster or the team’s G League affiliate,” Whitley said. “Many of these players sign a contract with an ‘E-10’ clause. They’re just one-year deals worth a minimum salary, which contain a bonus from $5K to $50K if the player goes to the G League and stays there for at least 60 days.”

The 60 days, compared to the inverse 45 days on the NBA roster in a two-way contract, do not have to be consecutive, which the league amended this year. E-10’s can also be converted to a two-way.

“The NBA made a rule change that, if they get called up to the NBA and if they get waived, they can come back to the G League team (and continue their 60 days).They have the option to leave, but they’re not getting the money if they leave early. To get the money, they have to stay the 60 days.”

G League salaries have seen an uptick, but there is still ample competition in the international market for basketball talent on the outskirts of the NBA. The newest Collective Bargaining Agreement did well to add new ways to give players new reasons to be G Leaguers.

“Essentially, each contract serves as incentive for players to stick around and go to the NBA G League affiliate, as opposed to going directly overseas right away.”

Teams can sign six Exhibit 10 deals in the preseason, then invite up to four to play for their G League squad. The 29 other NBA teams can pluck E-10 players from a G League roster at any time, unlike two-way players who are exclusive to one organization.

“If there’s an NBA team that wants to call them up, they can and will. It’s a sense of pride for us. Of course, it could be the Mavericks if we have a spot open on our roster. Or it’s gonna be another team’s roster. Either way, there’a a sense of pride in these guys getting called up to the NBA, no matter what team it is.”

The Mavs continue to flex every roster muscle available to them and have filled all four Exhibit 10 slots to begin 2018. Those players are Codi Miller-McIntyre, Rashad Vaughn, Donte Ingram and Ding Yanyuhang.

Miller-McIntyre is someone Whitley says the Mavs have been watching for a long time. The former Wake Forest point guard spent time with the Toronto Raptors in the Las Vegas Summer League.

“He’s played professionally overseas the past couple years. He led the Belgium League in scoring and assists. He also played in Russia and had honors there. He had a great camp with us, he’s a really good kid, he has an incredible work ethic. He’s a big guard that likes to defend and disrupt and I think he’s gonna be on the NBA watch list all season, with a really good chance to get called up.”

Vaughn was the 17th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. It didn’t work out with the Milwaukee Bucks, but a new organization may be the answer for the talented player, who is still just 22.

“He definitely has NBA talent. He shoots the ball with extremely high accuracy and we’re just hoping a change of scenery and a fresh start will benefit him. We feel like the Legends can provide that for him.”

Ingram is perhaps the biggest project of the four. He’s also the youngest, born a single August day earlier than Vaughn. He played a pivotal role on the Cinderella Loyola-Chicago team that reached the Final Four this past spring for the first time since 1963.

“He’s an athlete with a big, strong NBA body. He needs to improve his shot but his work ethic and willingness to learn is through the roof. We think there’s a ton of potential there.”

Yanyuhang played for the Mavs 2017 Summer League team and became a fan favorite there, even earning MVP chants for his efforts, a foreshadowing of events to come.

“Ding was the MVP of the Chinese Basketball Association last year and the MVP of the All-Star Game. He can really shoot the ball and we’re extremely excited that he’s joining the Legends. He turned down more lucrative deals back home to pursue his NBA dream.”

The new basketball season brings with it an abundance of exciting storylines in the Dallas Mavericks organization. That includes their G League affiliate Texas Legends, who perhaps have never been more integrated with not just the Mavericks front office, but the Mavericks roster.