The NBA is replacing outgoing G League president Malcolm Turner with former NBA All-Star Shareef Abdur-Rahim, the league announced on Tuesday. The news comes on Abdur-Rahim’s 42nd birthday.
Abdur-Rahim has worked as the NBA’s vice president of basketball operations since August 2016. He has worked throughout the league in a number of capacities since retiring in 2008. In a span of five years, he climbed the Sacramento Kings organizational ladder from assistant coach to assistant general manager to GM of the team’s G League affiliate in Reno. Abdur-Rahim joined the NBA’s league office in 2015, rising from basketball operations intern to VP of basketball operations within a year.
“I am thrilled to have this extraordinary opportunity with the NBA G League,” Abdur-Rahim said in a statement. “I’ve seen firsthand the NBA G League’s remarkable growth under Malcolm’s leadership, and I look forward to working with the players, teams and my colleagues to take the league to even greater heights.”
Turner is leaving the post he’s held since November 2014 to take over as athletic director of Vanderbilt University, according to Sports Business Daily. The organization change will go into effect on Jan. 11.
“Shareef’s unique experiences as a player, team executive and member of the NBA’s basketball operations department make him a fantastic fit to be the next president of the NBA G League,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in a statement. “He is well-prepared to build on the tremendous progress that the NBA G League has made under Malcolm, who deftly oversaw a pivotal period of expansion and transition. We thank Malcolm for his lasting contributions to the NBA and the NBA G League and wish him the best at Vanderbilt.”
Turner oversaw unprecedented growth in the G League, shepherding the final stages of its evolution from a development league to a true minor-league farm system. There are now 27 teams in the league and plans to expand to 30, each affiliated with a single NBA team. Under Turner’s stewardship, the D-League rebranded in partnership with Gatorade to become the G League prior to last season.
The league also recently announced increased salaries for all players, including select contracts worth as much as $125,000 for incoming prep prospects. Abdur-Rahim will have big shoes to fill, especially as it pertains to the NBA’s goal of making the G League as attractive a place for elite prospects as the college or European levels of basketball. That may not prove as simple as it sounds, as a trio of recent preps-to-pros prospects told SB Nation last month that the $125,000 incentive may not be enough.
Just for perspective’s sake, Abdur-Rahim was selected third overall in the 1996 NBA draft, two spots behind Allen Iverson and 10 spots before Kobe Bryant.
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