THURSDAY, 8:15am: The team confirmed that it’s begun the process of setting up a local one-to-one affiliate.
“Our goal is to have our Development League team closer to home, and we are beginning our due diligence to look at options in Central and Northern Florida,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said in a press release. “Having our D-League team closer to Orlando would give us the best opportunity to continue to develop our young players, while also extending the Magic brand in our region.”
Two of the eight locations the Magic are considering, Fort Myers and Estero, are in southwest Florida and closer to Miami than Orlando.
WEDNESDAY, 2:15pm: The Magic have begun work to have a D-League affiliate in Florida starting with the 2017/18 season, reports Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. The Erie BayHawks, based in Erie, Pennsylvania, became the Magic’s one-to-one affiliate last season, but the contract for the partnership between the two clubs is up after next season, Robbins points out. The Magic don’t own the BayHawks outright and instead have a “hybrid” partnership in which they run the basketball operations and Pennsylvania-based management is in charge of the business side. It’s not entirely clear whether the Magic would seek to move the BayHawks south or opt against renewing the contract and instead start a new D-League team of their own.
Magic GM Rob Hennigan has made it a goal to have a one-to-one affiliate in Florida since he joined the team in 2012, Robbins tweets. Partnering with the BayHawks represented a step toward that, as the Magic shared the Fort Wayne Mad Ants with five other NBA teams the season before they hooked up with Erie. Still, having an affiliate about 1,000 miles away isn’t ideal, particularly since other NBA teams, like the Thunder and Lakers, have D-League affiliates that play in the same city as they do. Orlando has only used its affiliate twice this season, sending Devyn Marble on a pair of assignments.
The Magic have sent requests for proposals to officials from eight Florida cities, including two locations in Orlando, a Magic spokesperson told Robbins. No D-League team currently plays in the southeastern United States, but the Hornets will place their affiliate in Greensboro, North Carolina, next season, and the Hawks are reportedly investigating the possibility of having a one-to-one affiliate in the future. The Heat have a one-to-one D-League partner, but it’s the Sioux Falls Skyforce, who play in South Dakota.