2009-10 NBA Expansion
Some things we know already.
a) Erie and Reno will begin play in 2008-09, bringing the total D-League teams to 16, a little over halfway to the League's goal of 30.
b) Even without the official announcement, the Portland, Maine team will begin play in 2009-10 and will be affiliated with the Boston Celtics. The full announcement will not take place until the summer.
c) The next round of expansion that will take place in the D, will be in the Northeast, with 2010-11 and 2011-12, will be for the Southeast and to fill in the remaining pieces to achieve their said goals.
Some rumors that have been floating about for 09-10
(Note: I am not pontificating on the percentages these will happen, but I do expect all to happen at some point):
1. Harlem, NY - with Donnie Walsh's hiring, this seems like a foregone conclusion that this will happen. It's pretty apparent that Walsh was brought into clean up the Knicks image. The interesting thing here is that the Knicks may not own this team at least 100%. There may be some Harlem local owners who own it.
2. Toledo, OH - this team is being thought about the Mud Hens organization and would probably be the Pistons affiliate. With the cities being only an hour apart, it makes too much sense for it not to happen.
3. Frisco, TX - Rumors that Cuban will put a team there that will be owned by the Mavericks. Frisco is a growing yuppie town/family area that would probably thrive. Fort Worth is a bad city for minor league sports it appears.
4. Trenton, NJ - The new President of the Sixers, Ed Stefanski has mentioned the empty arena in Trenton being the perfect place for the Sixers minor league team and I am liable to agree. I originally believed the Sixers would try to keep the team a PA team by being in Reading or Scranton, but ultimately Trenton is only a 40 minute drive away and the Sixers would be able to easily keep tabs on their young players during the season by having them play so close to home.
5. Toronto Raptor Affiliate - This one is very much up in the air. The MLSE owns the Raptors and may not have an interest in running a minor league team. However, it's pretty apparent that Bryan Colangelo wants one near the Raptors and thinks it will help grow the sport in Canada (I agree with him). Now, there are talks of Hamilton and Southern Ontario, but I am not sure the Raptors will have the infrastructure in place to put this together. The reason i say this is because I haven't even read of a venue yet. Which brings me to the Halifax Rainmen.
Personally, I would love to see the Rainmen get in the D-League for the 09-10 season after spending a year in the PBL or CBA, simply because there aren't any teams close to them in the D as of right now. If an agreement can be worked out with the Raptors and the Rainmen, it might work out. Here's the problem. The closest team to the Rainmen would be the expansion Portland team and they are a cool nine hours away. Hamilton is also nine hours away, but they are also closer to other teams like the Erie team and the Fort Wayne team. Can a team that is eighteen hours away from it's affiliate city (Toronto), really work? I just think at the end of the day they are going to be denied, because they are out on an island, quite literally. It says here that Hamilton will be the pick.
Teams that are up in the air:
1. The Rim Rockers - Formerly of Arkansas, Larry Crain has been trying to find a place to play for some time. Now, there were talks that he had secured a location in Cedar Rapids, but there has been no news on this since. League President Dan Reed emphatically stated that there would only be two expansion teams this year, so if the RimRockers are playing in Cedar Rapids this will probably not happen until 2009-10 as well. It's pretty much too late for Crain to get his ducks in a row to have a successful season, so they if this does succeed it will have to take place next year.
2. Florida Flame - Not sure if this group is simply waiting for the round of expansion in the Southeast before resuming play. They are not going to return to the league until the NBA re-expands into the South. One thing is certain, they are going to need another team in Florida (for the Orlando Magic). Probably in Daytona Beach or Jacksonville (I would bet on Jacksonville).
3. Albany Patroons - Has been some rumors that along with the new Northeast Division, there has been some dealings between the D-League and this team about possibly moving from the CBA. When the four CBA teams defected, many expected the Patroons to go with them, but they were not willing to suspend operations while waiting for the East Coast expansion, a wise choice I might add. However, now that the East Coast expansion is real, it would be smart of the league to let the Patroons in even at the rate they gave to the CBA teams previously, because this is a franchise with a lot of history and the perfect affiliate for the soon to be Brooklyn bound Nets.
So as it stands for the 2008-09 season, I am going to take a stab at the affiliate system.
Erie *expansion* (Cleveland, Philadelphia)
Fort Wayne (Detroit, Indiana)
Iowa (Chicago, Boston)
Dakota (Milwaukee, Washington)
Sioux Falls (Minnesota, Toronto)
Rio Grande Valley (Houston, New Orleans)
Tulsa *Bixby, OK* (Dallas, Memphis)
Austin (San Antonio)
Colorado (Denver, New Jersey)
Albuquerque (Phoenix, New York)
Utah (Utah, Charlotte)
Idaho (Portland, Seattle)
Reno *expansion* (Sacramento, Atlanta)
Bakersfield (Golden State, Miami)
Los Angeles *Ontario, CA* (LA Lakers)
Anaheim (LA Clippers, Orlando)
With the new affiliate system, the NBA is getting closer to it's goal of 1 to 1 affiliation and no D-League franchise will have more than two NBA team affiliated which is a good thing because it keeps multiple players from 3 different teams being yo-yo'd around.
So what to expect for 09-10? Here are my predictions.
Portland, ME (guaranteed) - Celtics affiliate
Trenton, NJ - Sixers affiliate
Harlem, NY - Knicks affiliate
Hamilton, Ontario - Raptors affiliate
Toledo, OH - Pistons affiliate
Albany Patroons defect from CBA, join D-League - Nets affiliate
Cedar Rapids possibly enters the league and if not the NBA helps Larry find a Southeast location to help relocate the RimRockers to (meaning either the Bobcats in Wilmington, NC; the Wizards in Northern Virginia or Maryland; the Hawks in Columbus or Gwinnett, GA; or the Magic somewhere in Central FL)
Frisco, TX waits till the 2010-11 season to join the NBA. I doubt the NBA is going to want more than 6 new teams coming into the D-League. So the top six would be my picks bringing the D-League to 22 teams before the Fall of 2009.
Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Erie [name TBA]
Sioux Falls SkyForce
Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Los Angeles Defenders
Reno [name TBA]
What do you expect to happen for the 2009-10 season?