NBA teams have greater D-League flexibility

The NBA has decided to create a new partnership with its Developmental League teams called the “hybrid affiliation” that will allow league franchises to control the basketball operations of the minor-league teams without outright purchasing them, Yahoo! Sports has learned.

Teams that chose the hybrid will control completely the basketball operations of their D-League affiliate. The NBA teams will assign the coaches and make the player personnel decisions for the minor league team. As a consequence, the NBA team must commit to paying the $300,000 to $400,000 a season that it costs to expense the D-League organization’s basketball operations. This cost includes paying the salaries of head and assistant coaches, players and trainers.

The details were outlined in a memo the league office sent to its 30 teams on Thursday. Currently, the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs own and operate their own D-League affiliates.

“The cost [of running a team] is less than a minimum-player salary, so it’s worth it to control your young talent,” a Western Conference executive told Yahoo! Sports. “You can either spend that money to build a great minor-league system or you can spend it on a minimum guy that’s sitting at the end of your bench.”

In its eighth season, the D-League has 16 teams and plans to add a 17th franchise in Portland, Maine, next season. Every NBA team has an affiliate that it can use to season players. NBA teams also can recall players who aren’t the property of particular teams. So far this season, 12 players have been called up to the NBA from the D-League.


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Updated Thursday, Mar 5, 2009