Just eight NBA teams don’t have their own D-League affiliate:
- Atlanta Hawks
- Denver Nuggets
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Washington Wizards
That list could soon shrink even further.
The Nuggets are likely to get back into the D-League business next season, according to league sources. But nothing has been decided or is imminent.
There’s not a huge value in having a D-League affiliate right now. There are advantages, but anyone in the D-League who’s not on an NBA contract – which takes up an NBA roster spot and counts against the NBA cap – is an NBA free agent. So, an NBA team could develop a young player on its affiliate only to have another NBA team snatch him away.
But I think that will change soon. Once all 30 NBA teams have their own affiliates, I predict they’ll hold exclusive NBA rights to some, if not all, of the D-League players on their affiliates (which will lead to increased salaries for D-Leaguers).
So, there will be major value in having an affiliate and running it well. Might as well get a head start on establishing the operation now.