NBC Sports brings us word via various sources that several teams are looking to advance their discussions to add a D-League team. First up, the Orlando Magic, who have been talking about adding a D-League team for a while, have targeted Jacksonville, Florida, as their preferred location of an affiliate. Via the Florida-Times Union:
The team said it has long-range hopes of possibly making the First Coast the home of their minor league program.
The Magic have an interest in moving its NBA Development League team to Jacksonville, team CEO Alex Martins said Tuesday.
“We've made it clear to the [NBA] league we'd like to make this happen,” Martins said.
Joel Lamp, of Jacksonville University's business development and communications department, confirmed the city wants a D-League franchise and is working to make that happen.
It's just 143 miles from Orlando to Jacksonvile, via Google Maps, and that's a good thing. The teams that have had the most success with the D-League have kept them close. The Magic are in a full rebuild mode, and honestly, it would be helpful to have one already set up. But moving in that direction is a good idea and one that's likely held up by the D-League's insistence on not over-populating before they're financially or logistically ready to.
Meanwhile, Pistons GM Joe Dumars has already spoken with one of the remaining unaffiliated teams about a partnership, via MLive.com. Let me break this down, though. The three remaining teams that have no affiliate (and are carrying a ridiculous amount of them this season with the explosion of single-affiliate teams across the league) are the Bakersfield Jam, the Iowa Energy, and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Fort Wayne is two and a half hours away from Detroit. It has been the affiliate of the team for several years. And it has stable ownership.
If the Pistons don't get a new team, they're very, extremely likely going to get a hybrid relationship (in which the team owns the basketball operations department while the local ownership retains the rest of the team's business structure) with Fort Wayne. That's just conjecture, but it's informed conjecture.
Meanwhile, at least one other NBA team had planned to add a D-League team this season but chose to wait for the time being. With 14 teams in single-affiliate systems, and the two above headed in that direction, those resisting the investment are running out of options and way behind the Joneses. The D-League's going to be a 1-to-1 affiliate system. It's just a matter of time.