The Los Angeles Clippers are about to become the 26th team in the NBA to have their own D-League team… er, I mean G-League team as Gatorade has become the title sponsor of the league.
The Clippers have found their own title sponsor — Agua Caliente Casino Resort — and an arena about an hour drive from Staples Center that will host the team. Marc Stein of ESPN broke the story and has the details.
The LA Clippers are working toward introducing their new NBA Development League franchise as the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN.com that the Clippers are closing in on an announcement that would establish Agua Caliente Casino Resort — one of the club’s most prominent sponsors at the NBA level — as the title sponsor of the club’s looming D-League affiliate in a unique naming arrangement.
Ontario, California, is roughly 50 miles away from Los Angeles, which would enable the Clippers to assign and recall players whose D-League rights they hold on an expedited basis.
This is a good thing for a few reasons. One, the new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement calls for two-way contracts so having an affiliate nearby where a couple of players can develop then be called up if needed/ready is a smart thing.
However, this is more key for the Clippers in a bigger picture — they have been poor at developing talent to go around their stars. While the franchise developed Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, look at the other top teams in the West — San Antonio, Golden State, Utah — and you see franchises that round out their rosters with quality young players they draft then groom. The most obvious example, the Clippers had Joe Ingles in training camp but cut him loose three years back, the Jazz picked him up and took the time to develop him. In the first round, Ingles was key for Utah in the matchups that beat the Clippers.
Doc Rivers has the Clippers in a “win now” place, but with that he has been like the guy who goes to the grocery store and buys the pre-prepared meals rather than the ingredients to make his own dinner. After a while, the cost of that catches up with people — the Clippers have disregarded their draft picks for years, and it shows. Look at the Clippers roster, there aren’t the kinds of guys developed in house that populate the Spurs bench, or Utah, or many top NBA teams. Los Angeles needs those kinds of players, that is part of the reason they lack depth.
Maybe adding a nearby D-League team will start to change that. Although not in the short term as the Clippers have traded away all their picks in this draft.