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Suns waive Tidjan Keita, less than 24 hours after signing him

That was an incredible few hours as a member of the Phoenix Suns, eh?

Not long after signing 20-year old Tidjan Keida to his first ever NBA contract, the Suns went ahead and waived him. He never suited up. Never made the active roster.

Why bother?

Because it’s one of the nine ways to get a player on your affiliated G-League team, and one of the quickest for a new prospect joining the league.

NBA teams can designate up to four players that they cut during training camp as “affiliate players,” meaning those players will join that team’s NBA G League affiliate (should the players choose to sign into the NBA G League). These players are signed under contract with the league rather than the team, however, meaning they are technically free agents who can be called up to any of the 30 NBA teams.

Tidjan is now one of the four, joining recently released Anthony Bennett and Peter Jok as “affiliate” players for the Phoenix Suns’ G-league team, the NAZ Suns.

My guess is that Elijah Millsap is a few hours away from being cut and becoming the fourth “affiliate” player. The Suns are one player over the roster limit at the moment, so they don’t have the luxury of keeping Millsap on an NBA contract the way they did with Derrick Jones Jr. last year.

This doesn’t give the Suns exclusive rights to those players. They could be called up by any of the NBA teams because the players will have signed contracts with the league as a whole, not with the Phoenix Suns or a NAZ Suns.

The Suns only have exclusive rights to those players either on a two-way contract (Alec Peters, Mike James) or on a full NBA contract (like Derrick Jones Jr.)

Add in two-way contract player Alec Peters, who can only spend up to 45 days on the big boy roster this year while putting the rest of the time at the NAZ Suns, and you’ve basically got half of the NAZ Suns roster identified.

Reportedly, Mike James won’t be spending any time in the G-League this year, despite being on a two-way contract. The Suns don’t have the roster space at the moment to convert him to a full NBA contract, given they already have 16 full contract players and will have to waive/trade someone by tomorrow (likely Millsap).

As a two-way player, James can spend the first 45 days on the Suns roster, at which time the Suns find the room for a full contract OR they will release him.

Judging by last night’s rotation where Tyler Ulis clearly got all backup point guard minutes, James is the third point guard and will struggle to get playing time barring injury.

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