Last season, the Magic, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves and the Philadelphia 76ers were affiliated with the Sioux Falls SkyForce.
But SkyForce officials announced today that they have entered into a one-to-one affiliation agreement with the Heat.
The move ensures that the Magic will need a new affiliate.
Magic officials probably welcome the news.
The Magic didn’t assign any of its young players to the SkyForce last season.
The distance between Orlando and Sioux Falls and the limited number of flights into Sioux Falls made it impractical for the Magic to assign anyone there.
Still, the Magic want to make the D-League a part of their player-development strategy.
Last October, Magic GM Rob Hennigan told me he’d like the Magic to have an affiliate that’s closer to Orlando.
The Heat-SkyForce partnership is one of six “hybrid affiliations.” In that kind of an agreement, the NBA team pays for and runs the D-League team’s basketball operations. Meanwhile, the local owner of the D-League team runs the team’s off-the-court business operations and community relations.
The five other NBA teams with hybrid affiliations are the Boston Celtics (Maine Red Claws), Brooklyn Nets (Springfield Armor), Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers), New York Knicks (Erie BayHawks) and Portland Trail Blazers (Idaho Stampede).
Six NBA teams own and run D-League teams: the Cleveland Cavaliers (Canton Charge), Golden State Warriors (Santa Cruz Warriors), Los Angeles Lakers (L.A. D-Fenders), Oklahoma City Thunder (Tulsa 66ers), Philadelphia 76ers (Delaware 87ers) and San Antonio Spurs (Austin Toros).
The Dallas Mavericks have a one-to-one affiliation with the Texas Legends.
The remaining 13 NBA teams, including the Magic, will be affiliated with the D-League franchises in Bakersfield, Des Moines, Fort Wayne and Reno.
The NBA will determine the affiliations, but league officials solicit input from NBA teams.
It would seem the franchises based in Des Moines and Fort Wayne would be most attractive to the Magic because of their better geographic proximity.
But Hennigan worked in the Spurs and Thunder front offices, and he no doubt wants the Magic to have relationships similar to the Spurs’ relationship with the Toros and the Thunder’s relationship to the 66ers.
The problem is, there aren’t any D-League teams close to Orlando.
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.