And by 'assigned' they actually meant 'demoted', something the official minor league of the NBA probably didn't have in mind when allowing players to be shuttled between NBA teams and their D-League affiliates.
"After discussing the situation with Avery over the last several days, I feel the best course of action for Terrence and the team at this time is for him to play in the D-League," Nets general manager Billy King said in a press release announcing the assignment. "He is currently on the inactive list and this move will allow him to play until he is once again placed on the active list.
"There is no timetable on his return to the active list, and Terrence's future status will be addressed at the appropriate time."
While King doesn't overtly come out and say that the assignment is in fact a demotion, the reason Williams came to being on the Nets' inactive list at all -- after playing well to end last season -- was due to what the team called "repeated violations of team rules."
This isn't the message to send to fans that already seemingly look a bit down on the D-League and, in fact, might not even have the desired affect the Nets are hoping for on Williams. With this 'demotion' to the D-League, nearly all of the positives that might come out of having three of this year's lottery picks in the D-League -- Patrick Patterson (Houston Rockets), Ed Davis (Toronto Raptors) and Cole Aldrich (Oklahoma City Thunder) -- are probably down the drain as the Williams' assignment will get more media coverage due to the circumstances surrounded by it.
In the assignments mentioned above, all three players have embraced the D-League as a chance to either receive playing time due to being stuck behind veterans in the rotation or, in Davis' case, a chance to get back into playing shape while recovering from a knee injury. None of those assignments could be considered a demotion, but a way of developing - exactly what the D-League is meant to do. With Williams however, it's being categorized as a demotion instead of a development stint. I wouldn't blame Williams if his focus isn't on developing due to the way the Nets have handled the situation -- and that might only hurt the D-League further.
With Williams on the Armor, he'll most likely be inserted immediately into the starting lineup, going through the motions while a D-League player working to make his way to the NBA will now be demoted to the bench for no reason other than that the Nets believe that the D-League should be considered a punishment. Springfield head coach might also alter his game plan to cater to Williams skills -- as Williams will almost certainly be the team's best player -- leaving the development of players like Scottie Reynolds in flux.
The Armor, who will be solely run by the Nets next season, might also see problems in the future which could negate the benefits of a direct affiliation. For example, this season the Houston Rockets signed three players to play for them in training camp to easily allow them to play for their D-League affiliate once the season began. The San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics also had similar successes, but I wouldn't be surprised if players might not want to go the same route with the Nets next season considering that they see the D-League more as a way of punishment than a bounce away from the NBA.
While the Nets may have a case that Williams deserved to be punished, it will almost certainly hurt elements of the D-League more than it helps in their sending the appropriate message.