Last season, 17 NBA teams had their own D-League affiliates.
That meant the NBA’s other 13 teams shared one D-League team – the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Well, the Pacers just bought the Mad Ants, leaving each of the 19 D-League teams with its own single affiliate. (The Raptors bought an expansion D-League franchise).
So now what about the 11 NBA teams without a D-League affiliate – Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards? Can they still send players to the D-League?
With the acquisition, the NBA D-League’s flexible assignment system – which was instituted prior to the 2014-15 season – will continue to enable the 11 independent NBA teams to assign players to the NBA D-League for development or rehabilitation from injury. Upon receipt of an assignment from an independent NBA team, the NBA D-League will identify any NBA D-League team willing to accept the assigned player. The assigning independent NBA team will then choose the destination for assignment between those teams. If no NBA D-League team is willing to accept the assigned player, he will be assigned to one of the hybrid affiliate teams pursuant to a lottery. The 19 NBA teams with single affiliations will be able to assign players to their NBA D-League partners.
Expect to see plenty of cooperation – the San Antonio Spurs-affiliated Austin Spurs taking assignment players from Mike Budenholzer’s Hawks, the Boston Celtics-affiliated Main Red Claws taking assignment players from Doc Rivers’ Clippers, etc.
The Spurs have an advantage the Celtics don’t, though. Because the Spurs own their D-League affiliate, they’ll never be forced to take an assignment player they don’t want.
The NBA teams that own a D-League team: Cleveland Cavaliers (Canton Charge), Golden State Warriors (Santa Cruz Warriors), Indiana Pacers (Fort Wayne Mad Ants), Los Angeles Lakers (L.A. D-Fenders), New York Knicks (Westchester Knicks), Oklahoma City Thunder (Oklahoma City Blue), Philadelphia 76ers (Delaware 87ers), San Antonio Spurs (Austin Spurs), Utah Jazz (Idaho Stampede) and Toronto Raptors (Raptors 905).
The NBA teams with a D-League affiliate it doesn’t own, or hybrid affiliations: Boston Celtics (Maine Red Claws), Detroit Pistons (Grand Rapids Drive), Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers), Memphis Grizzlies (Iowa Energy), Miami Heat (Sioux Falls Skyforce), Orlando Magic (Erie BayHawks), Phoenix Suns (Bakersfield Jam), Sacramento Kings (Reno Bighorns).
The Dallas Mavericks (Texas Legends) have a one-to-one affiliation. It’s unclear how they’ll be treated, but it seems they’d be in the lottery for assignment players.