Jan 23

The Anatomy Of An NBA D-League Call Up

By caseyholdahl Posted in: Celtics, Pistons, Blazers, PattyMills
Trail Blazers rookie Patty Mills was recalled from assignment with the NBA D-League’s Idaho Stampede on January 23. The following is a step by step retelling of the events that resulted in Mills ending up in Detroit with the Trail Blazers for their 97-93 victory against the Pistons.

On January 22, Jerryd Bayless leaves a game against the Celtics  in Boston with 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle. He doesn’t return. The Trail Blazers go on to lose 98-95 in overtime. Of Portland’s remaining healthy guards, Andre Miller ends up playing 47 minutes, Steve Blake plays 21 and Rudy Fernandez plays 35, 11 minutes more than he’s played in any of the four previous games he suited up for since returning from an injury.

After the game, the management team consisting of General Manager Kevin Pritchard, Vice President of Basketball Operations Tom Penn, Director of NBA Scouting Mike Born and Director of College Scouting Chad Buchanan email each other regarding the game in Boston. Penn is with the team in Boston, while Pritchard, Born and Buchanan are all in different locations scouting.

The idea to bring Mills from the Idaho Stampede is discussed via email after the game. With Brandon Roy back in Portland with a hamstring injury and Bayless’ status listed as questionable, it is decided that it makes sense to bring Mills back. Nate McMillan is brought into the conversation and signs off on the idea.

Once the decision is made to call Mills back, Trail Blazers Senior Vice President, General Counsel Mike Fennel is notified. Fennel is tasked with preparing the requisite paperwork that will later be faxed to the NBA and NBDL and processed the next day.

The Trail Blazers training and equipment staff, including Jay Jensen, Geoff Clark and Matt Wilson are notified that Mills will rejoin the team for purposes of making sure they would be ready to accommodate his arrival.

At this time, Mills is at the airport in Denver with the Stampede preparing to board a plane to Albuquerque for a game on Saturday night against the Thunderbirds. The Stampede will be staying a few nights in Albuquerque, and since United, the airline the Stampede are flying with, charges for checked baggage, Mills only packs a carryon for the trip.

Around 9:30 PM, Mills gets a call from Buchanan telling him he’s been recalled and that he needs to meet the team in Detroit for Saturday night’s game against the Pistons. Mills later says that he was literally getting his ticket out of his bag when he receives the call and that the only reason he even answered was because the call came in with a 503 area code.

Born contacts Bob MacKinnon, head coach of the Stampede, to tell him that the Trail Blazers would be recalling Mills. Born also notifies Chris Alpert, Director of Basketball Operations and Player Personnel for the NBDL, of the decision.

Mills stays behind in Denver while his teammates on the Stampede leave for New Mexico. Trail Blazers’ Director of Basketball Operations Brad Weinrich makes travel accommodations for Mills to join the team in Detroit. There are no flights available Friday night to Detroit, so Mills stays the night at a hotel near the Denver airport, boarding a shuttle the next morning at 5 AM to catch a flight to Detroit.

Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers are late departing from Boston. The team plane has to fly into a different Michigan airport, which is a 45 minute bus ride from the team hotel. They don’t get in until after 3 AM.

The Trail Blazers don’t conduct shootaround before the second game of a back-to-back. They do have a team meeting at the hotel, which starts at noon. Mills arrives at the Trail Blazers’ hotel in Rochester, MI at 12:30 PM in time to catch the last half of the meeting, in which the gameplan for Saturday night’s contest is discussed.

Mills, along with most other members of the team, boards a bus headed to the Palace at Auburn Hills for the game against the Pistons. Mills is in uniform and active for the game. Despite Bayless sitting out the game, Mills does not play any minutes. The Trail Blazers go on to defeat the Pistons 97-93. Mills flys back to Portland with the team.


  1. Thanks for the info, I'm glad I'm not the only one worried about how this worked!

    by BlazerFamily on 1/24/2010 10:34 AM
  2. he might not play a lot, but i hope patty stays with the team to start learning the system. he will be our roadrunner coming off the bench at some point. i can't wait for the aussie express!

    by reverse on 1/24/2010 11:52 AM
  3. Hi Casey, Informative article. Very interesting.

    Just checking on my Mail status? I have not received anything(hat) yet, so I dont know if it is still on its way or *gulp* you forgot to send:( As always I know you are busy, so get back to me when you can.

    by LTG on 1/24/2010 1:29 PM
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