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D-League president: Minor league could expand to 30 teams within five years

Vipers Blue Basketball

Rio Grande Valley Vipers Jarvis Threatt (10) is fouled from behind by Oklahoma City Blue Chris Singleton(23) during the first half of an NBA D-League basketball game in Hidalgo, Texas, Saturday, March, 21, 2015. (AP Photo/The Monitor, Delcia Lopez)


The Nets, Bulls and Hornets will get D-League affiliates next season, leaving just eight NBA teams without an affiliate:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Washington Wizards

D-League president Malcolm Turner expects that list to fall by eight shortly.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY:

The league is moving closer to a 30-for-30 model that would provide each NBA team with its own D-League team, and Turner told USA TODAY Sports that’s a realistic goal within the next five years.

“All those NBA teams who currently don’t have a D-League team, we’re in active conversations with all of them,” Turner said. “Each team is at varying stages in terms of interest, and we’re trying to prioritize actionable interest and opportunities we can act on now. …

“We’re already working on the pipeline of opportunities for ’17-’18 and beyond. One of the reasons we’re focused on them so far in advance is 30-for-30 is our No. 1 initiative and we feel like we’re now within striking distance of achieving that goal.”

A 30-team D-League looks inevitable, and it should bring plenty of related changes:

  • NBA teams could hold the NBA rights of all players on their D-League affiliate.
  • D-League salaries could increase if players relinquish their freedom to sign with any team and if fans are more drawn to a league that mirrors the NBA’s 30 teams.
  • The NBA draft could expand to stock D-League rosters.

With the D-League likely to reach 30 teams so soon, Adam Silver and Michele Roberts should add these issues to negotiations now.