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Old 04-27-2009, 07:49 AM
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Default Basketball decisions for D-League teams to shift to NBA clubs

By JOHN LOMBARDO
Staff writer

The NBA Development League plans to convert its ownership model into a structure in which franchises are owned by private investors but basketball operations are funded and controlled by its parent NBA teams.

The 16-team D-League, which next year will expand to 17 teams, has private ownership for all but three of its franchises. Three NBA teams — the San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder — own their own D-League teams outright, but the league’s private ownership groups share multiple affiliations and fund both the business and basketball operations.

The D-League next year will begin to change to a more conventional minor league model in which parent NBA teams will begin to have single affiliations with minor league franchises and have full control of basketball operations. The league has just informed its teams of its conversion effort.

“We are still … changing the structure, but we are working on a model that will allow teams to control the basketball operations of the D-League teams without having to own the teams outright,” said D-League President Dan Reed. “NBA teams are interested in getting more control and giving the teams greater flexibility.”

The new model, however, does not mean that the D-League will look for short-term expansion to 30 teams to allow each NBA team its own affiliation. “We’ve doubled the size of the league in three years, but we are not going to grow at that pace,” Reed said. “We want to make sure we are sustainable in our growth.”

The D-League ended its 2008-09 regular season with an average attendance of 2,713 fans a game, down 3 percent from the 2007-08 average of 2,813, an all-time high for the league.
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