Monday, May 19, 2014

Magic Fans Have to Care About the D-League Now

CHRISTOPHER MILLETTE//ERIE TIMES-NEWS
The NBA's Development League has been around since 2001, accelerating the maturity of young basketball talents, finding the occasional gem, and being a final stop for those veterans still holding on to their dreams of continuing to be professional ballers. Next season marks the NBDL's 14th season, and the first one that the Orlando Magic will truly have to care about as the D-League continues to grow its product.

The Magic today officially embark on a brand new 3-year single affiliation partnership with the Erie BayHawks who were founded in 2008. This came following the New York Knicks ending their relationship with the BayHawks. It's a massive upgrade from the rarely used 6-team affiliation the Magic had with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants who just won the NBDL championship.


Click here and you can see there was a press conference in Erie, Pennsylvania today commemorating the partnership with the BayHawks. Majority owner Steve Demetriou welcomed Magic representatives that included Nick Anderson, Pat Williams, CEO Alex Martins, and Orlando GM Rob Hennigan. I'm sure Orlando would have preferred an affiliate much closer than the northeast - such as Jacksonville - but the Magic are embracing the increasing presence the D-League is having on the NBA. Erie's organization seems thrilled with the new relationship. The Magic are now the 16th NBA franchise with a one-to-one D-League team affiliate. Below is a segment of the official statement:
The partnership, also referred to as a “hybrid affiliation,” is the eighth of its kind in the NBA D-League and allows an NBA team to control the NBA D-League team’s basketball operations, while the existing local ownership maintains primary responsibility for the team’s off-the-court business operations and community initiatives. 
“We are looking forward to a mutually beneficial partnership with the BayHawks,” said Orlando Magic Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins. “We feel this hybrid relationship will further assist our efforts in regards to developing NBA talent, while providing Erie with a team they can be proud of. I would like to thank Steve Demetriou. His vision and values fit very well with ours and we are excited about this exclusive affiliation.” 
The BayHawks, which just finished its sixth NBA D-League season in Erie, have previously been affiliated with the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors and have produced four NBA D-League All-Stars and developed 11 players who earned GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA. Additionally, the BayHawks have welcomed 15 NBA players on assignment, including Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets and Danny Green of the San Antonio Spurs. 
“We’re thrilled to have the Orlando Magic as our new NBA affiliate,” said Erie BayHawks majority owner Steve Demetriou. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know Alex Martins and other members of the Magic management team, and we are extremely excited to join forces with this first class organization. The Magic are aligned with our goals of providing an outstanding product on and off the court that our fans, corporate partners and the Erie community can continue to be proud of.”
The D-League regular season typically runs from late November through early April. Then a 3-week postseason occurs. The BayHawks just let go of their Head Coach, Gene Cross, after 2 seasons at the helm. Erie missed out on the playoffs both times. It's pretty obvious that the Magic will have a heavy hand in deciding who will be on the new coaching staff. No hints yet as to which individuals will be chosen.

Back in 2012, Patrick Ewing was actually offered the Head Coach position but turned them down. The BayHawks are best known for being the team that gave Jeremy Lin his stage that would lead to the New York Knicks signing Lin and then witnessing the birth of 'Linsanity'. The most famous current player on the BayHawks is former Magic man Solomon Jones. It'll be interesting come October/November to see which players the Magic send to Erie. Orlando previously had not sent down a player to the D-League since the 2010-2011 season.

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