For casual NBA fans, the NBA D-League is an obscure minor league that seldom gets the attention it deserves. Savvy, hardcore NBA fans have come to the realization that not only is the developmental league here to stay, but it is an intricate and vital resource that can strengthen NBA franchises. They have come to understand that the developmental league provides fertile grounds for not only future players, but for referees, trainers, coaches and front office personnel.
With the Orlando Magic recently acquiring the Erie BayHawks as a one-on-one affiliate, we wanted to give you some background info on the D-League. Below, we’ll look at some of the things that have happened in the past in the D-League, some of the current things happening, and potentially some things we could see in the future.
- The developmental league was established in the fall of 2001 with eight teams, all of which were located in the southeastern portion of the United States.
- After two seasons, two franchises’ — The Greenville Groove and Mobile Revelers — folded.
- In 2005 two more franchises were added — the Fort Worth Flyers and the Arkansas RimRockers — and three team’s were relocated to the Mid-West. These moves began the transition to a more diverse geographical split for the D-League.
- In March 2005 , then NBA Commissioner David Stern announced plans to expand the league to 15 franchises, and turn it into a true minor league system. He also renamed the league the National Basketball Developmental League (NBADL). The overall goal was to have each NBA D-League team affiliated with one or more NBA teams.
- In January 2010, the league announced it had reached it’s first television agreement with cable network Versus. The D-League eventually parlayed that agreement into relationships with CBS Sports and Youtube.
- The NBA D-League currently consist of 18 franchise. These franchises are broken into three divisions — East, Central, and West.
- The eighteen teams very considerably in regards to ownership and operational structure. Independent owners control most of the league’s teams, but with the rewards of controlling a D-League franchise becoming more apparent, several NBA organizations are taking direct ownership on. Another example is single-affiliate partnerships also known as hybrid affiliations. This is where the D-League team remains independently owned while a parent NBA franchise controls basketball operations. Multi-team affiliations were several NBA teams share a D-League franchise are a dying breed. Only the Fort Wayne Mad Ants will have such a partnership in the upcoming 2014-15 season. Six different teams will share Fort Wayne as their D-League affiliate.
- Most recently, the New York Knicks added the leagues newest addition –the Westchester Knicks — after three years with the Erie BayHawks.
- The NBADL currently pays players in three tiers — $13,000, $19,000 and $25,000 — and some teams will pay for players housing during the season as well. With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on the horizon, these numbers could go up, assuming the NBA puts more funding into the ever growing D-League.
The NBA D-League has come a long way since it’s first year in 2001. While it still has a long way to go, it has the strong foundation to continue to grow into a potential powerhouse. That blueprint should be a beacon for prospects around the world, prospects that all share a mutual goal of reaching the pinnacle of their sport. With continued hard work and steady growth, the NBA Developmental League could be on it’s way to being the premier gatekeeper to the NBA.