Fourteen NBA teams have sole control of a D-League team. That means the other 16 NBA teams are sharing three D-League teams, a situation that won’t remain tenable for long.
We’re headed to a 30-team D-League with each NBA team either owning or have a one-to-one affiliation with a D-league team. Like in baseball, every player on the minor-league squad will have his rights owned by his major-league affiliate.
That will be good for both leagues, as fan have a reason to follow players who could be not only future NBA players, but future players for the fans’ favorite team. Right now, NBA fans don’t care about D-League players who weren’t sent down by NBA teams. But if a D-League player was the fourth-round pick of their favorite NBA team – yeah, I think the draft will expand, too – fans will want to follow that player.
Two of the six teams sharing the Fort Wayne Mad Ants are moving in the direction I see the leagues going.
Don Coble of The Florida Times-Union:
The Magic, who will play the New Orleans Pelicans at 7, have an interest in moving its NBA Development League team to Jacksonville, team CEO Alex Martins said Tuesday.
“We’ve made it clear to the [NBA] league we’d like to make this happen,” Martins said.
The Detroit Pistons have engaged in discussions about acquiring exclusive control of an NBA Developmental League team, Joe Dumars said Friday.
The Pistons’ president of basketball operations was not specific about whom the team had negotiated with, where any such team would be based, or whether the pursuit focused on an existing or expansion franchise.
Jacksonville, two hours from Orlando, is a perfect location for a Magic D-League team. Fans in Jacksonville might spend money on the Magic and attend an occasional game, and a D-League franchise is a great way to engage them.
For the Pistons, Grand Rapids, two hours from Auburn Hills, would be a good location for the same reasons. If the Pistons draw fans there through a D-League team, some of those fans will spend money on the parent club.
There’s money to be made through the D-League, even if D-League teams themselves lose money. It will take affiliates in places like Jacksonville, and that’s where we’re headed.