MAY 19TH: The deal is now official, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.
MAY 9TH: An official announcement of the new arrangement will be made the week of May 19th, reports Gino Pilato of D-League Digest.
APRIL 15TH: The Erie BayHawks will serve as the Magic’s D-League affiliate in a one-to-one relationship next season, sources tell Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The Knicks announced this spring that they’re ending their hybrid partnership with the BayHawks after the season and starting a D-League expansion team that will serve as their affiliate. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported in February that the Magic had been in talks with an existing D-League team about forming a one-to-one relationship, and Zillgitt reveals it was indeed the BayHawks.
The Magic are one of six teams sharing the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this season, and they haven’t made a D-League assignment in 2013/14, even though their roster is full of young, developing players. GM Rob Hennigan and company apparently want to make better use of the D-League, despite the approximately 1,000-mile distance between Orlando and Erie, Pennsylvania that will make it tough for the club to liberally shuttle players back and forth as many teams with closer affiliates do. Still, it’s only about half the distance separating the Heat from their one-to-one affiliate in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
There were 14 NBA teams this season with a one-to-one D-League affiliation. The Pistons will also join that list next season, while the Blazers are ending their relationship with the Idaho Stampede and will share an affiliate in 2014/15. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another team strike a direct partnership with the Stampede before next season. The number of teams with one-to-one affiliates has grown in the past few years, and the D-League hopes someday to have a club lined up with each NBA team.
The hybrid partnership means the Magic will run the basketball operations for the BayHawks, while Erie’s owners will take care of the business end of the club. There are seven NBA franchises that have similar arrangements with a D-League team this season, while other NBA clubs own their affiliates outright.