SBD/January 11, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NBA Teams Ramp Up Utilization Of D-League; Possible Expansion To 30 Teams

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NBA teams are "embracing the 12-year-old D-League more than ever as a resource to develop talent," according to Ian Thomsen of SI.com. Eleven franchises are "managed exclusively by NBA parent teams," and expectations are for the league to eventually "expand to 30 teams." That day will come "sooner than later when every NBA franchise will have an exclusive relationship with its own minor-league affiliate." The Trail Blazers manage the Idaho Stampede "as if it were their version of a Triple-A farm team." Blazers GM Neil Olshey said, "It's invaluable. One thing you can't promise young players on an NBA team is minutes, because you can't put the team in position to suffer in terms of wins and losses.'' D-League franchises that "cost $400,000 to buy a decade ago are now being valued at close to $4 million." More than half "claim to be profitable." The league also has "been broadcasting all of its games live on YouTube in an innovative attempt to grow an audience for the long term." Mavericks President of Basketball Operations & GM Donnie Nelson owns the Texas Legends and "runs it as a profitable business, hiring older, recognizable" players with NBA experience while "providing a carnival atmosphere in the arena to draw in young fans and families." A "hybrid'' affiliation also exists, as introduced by the Rockets in '09 when they "bought the basketball operations of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (while local ownership continued to control the franchise's business end)." Full-time D-League players "earn between $15,000 and $25,000 per season." If the business "grows and salaries rise with the next collective bargaining agreement, the D-League may eventually become an option for the best high school players who don't want to spend a year in college" (SI.com, 1/10).

NBA D-LEAGUE TEAMS
TEAM OWNERSHIP MODEL AFFILIATION(S)
Austin Toros Team owned Spurs
Bakersfield Jam Independent Hawks, Clippers, Suns, Raptors
Canton Charge Team owned Cavaliers
Erie Bayhawks Single affiliate Knicks
Ft. Wayne Mad Ants Independent Bobcats, Pistons, Pacers, Bucks
Idaho Stampede Single affiliate Trail Blazers
Iowa Energy Independent Bulls, Hornets, Nuggets, Wizards
L.A. D-Fenders Team owned Lakers
Maine Red Claws Single affiliate Celtics
Reno Bighorns Independent Grizzlies, Kings, Jazz
Rio Grande Valley Vipers Single affiliate Rockets
Santa Cruz Warriors Team owned Warriors
Sioux Falls Skyforce Independent Heat, T'Wolves, Magic, 76ers
Springfield Armor Single affiliate Nets
Texas Legends Single affiliate Mavericks
Tulsa 66ers Team owned Thunder

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