The Kings have been affiliated with the Reno Bighorns since the D-League squad’s inaugural season in 2008/09, and the two teams have had a single-affiliate relationship since the 2013/14 campaign. However, 2016/17 will be the first season in which the Kings own a controlling interest in the Bighorns. Sacramento announced today in a press release that it has purchased a controlling interest in the D-League team, becoming the 15th NBA team to own and operate its D-League affiliate.
“We’re excited to deepen our relationship with the Bighorns and the Reno/Tahoe community,” Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé said in a statement. “This is an incredible opportunity to develop players, front-office staff and future business executives for the Sacramento Kings, while simultaneously contributing meaningfully to the Reno entertainment, commercial and non-profit ecosystem.”
The Kings’ already controlled the basketball operations for the Bighorns, but will control the business side of the franchise now as well, allowing the D-League squad to become an extension of the NBA team’s brand. Sam Amick of USA Today, who first reported the story, indicated that the Kings may eventually move the Bighorns closer to Sacramento, though he added that the Kings are “strongly indicating” publicly that they have no plans to relocate their affiliate (Twitter links).
For 2016/17, the Bighorns are set to play their home games in Reno, with a few games set to take place in Sacramento as well, Amick tweets. The Kings are carrying several young players on their roster, having selected Georgios Papagiannis, Malachi Richardson, Skal Labissiere, and Isaiah Cousins in this year’s draft — some of those draftees may end up being assigned to Reno for parts of this season to ensure that they receive regular playing time.