Number one response I got yesterday when I asked publically about what team was getting Milwaukee's affiliation?
"The Bucks are their own D-League team."
Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.
Here's the thing. I feel like the league made a significant error in not working this out before hand. Now, their hands may have been tied. I'm not exactly sure what the rules are regarding the sale of D-League teams, whether they have to be approved, or what, but judging from Brandt Anderson said today in his blog (MUST-READ), it sure as hell doesn't sound like there's an owners' vote. So if Kahn just up and sold it, especially if he did it suddenly, the League had to react positively, even if they were unprepared. However, if the League had acceptable prior notice on this, they should have had some sort of clarification.
The reason I say this is because it was Milwaukee. Ramon Sessions was the biggest D-League story last year, along with Lance Allred and the Miami Three. This is a team that actually, you know, used the thing, and now they've got Skiles, who had a good relationship with Iowa, even though none of the players developed very well. I wouldn't mind if they stuck Orlando or Sacramento without a team. Both of them are completely and totally ignorant that this "so called 'Developmental League'" even exists. But Milwaukee has shown good faith in supporting the league, and deserves better than to be left hanging.
I know, I know, the season's not till November. But from what I saw at Summer League? Lil Joey Alexander could use some time in the D-League, and it would be nice to have the staffs meet. Skiles has used the D-League before, but its mostly been a "let's get rid of him for a while because he disgusts me." You need to build a relationship.
There is one more option.
Halifax has been trying desperately to get approval for the D-League. Last I heard, there was some sort of breakdown, because President Reed went from "Hallifax, yeah!" to "Well, there's a lot to discuss." Meanwhile, Hallifax joined the PBL. It's obviously not a long term move. Ownership there clearly wants to get into the D-League, but my thought is it's going to take till next year when the worst kept secret is revealed and the D-League announces the Portland, ME and Harlem teams (You hear that, D-League? I'm on to you!). Then they can have a northeastern division with Erie, New York, Portland, and Halifax. By the way, Halifax needs two ls. I'm just telling you. The one l bugs the hell out of me.
Anyway, so the other option is that with the sale, go ahead and approve Halifax. It hurts the burgeoning PBL (term used loosely, though I'm rooting for it), gives them another team to send MIlwaukee to, and while it's a bit of a distance for the other teams, they have a team in Rio Grand Valley, for God's sake.
So what are the other options? Well, the next option is to triple load a team. Danger, Dan Reed, Danger. Loading up three different teams' interests on one squad is not a good idea. Does Reno sound like a good option, considering the Kings will never look at the Bighorns? Yes. But Reno's going to depend on the association with the Kings for marketing and promotional support, even if the Maloofs could give half a damn about it. So you can't go there. You still don't want three teams vying for control. All that's going to create is distrust, which hurts the system.
But let's say they opt for that. What are some sensible alternatives to Tulsa? Well, there's Fort Wayne. Indiana can't afford to send down players because all their guys either get hurt or suspended, and they haven't shown that they understand how to use it anyway, even though it's only a few hours away. So that's good. That just leaves the Pistons. And therein lies the problem. The Pistons LOVE the Mad Ants. Chiekh Samb, Jason Maxiell, Amir Johnson, Aaron Afflalo, all have spent time in Fort Wayne. Which means you're dealing with two clubs, in the same division, who both use the D-League, vying for control. That's going to get sticky. What happens when Samb nails Mbah A Moute in the mouth during practice and injures him? Or vice versa? Samb's already been injured in the D-League. Having it happen by a rival's player? Bad mojo.
How about Sioux Falls? Skyforce are a terrific squad. The Bobcats don't and won't use it. But Minnesota had Skyforce coach Nate Tibbets on staff for summer league (NOTE: Look for an exclusive interview with Coach Tibbets on Monday! Only on Ridiculous Upside! VERY FUNNY. /shameless plug). So we run into the same problem.
Iowa Energy? Yeah, that's Skiles' former club's affiliate. Awk-ward. No dice. Plus, I have some serious questions about Iowa right now.
Which leaves us with Colorado. Denver's invested there, they have a lot of connections, but they still hardly use it. Elton Brown sat there under their nose last year and they still didn't pick him up. The Nuggets have bigger concerns right now than their D-League affiliate. What about the Nets? The Nets WANT their young players on staff. They don't want to send anyone down. They're good. Plus, there's a strong connection. The Bucks hired former Colorado 14ers' coach Joe Wolf (AKA ther tersest interview, EVAR, though I can't blame him for being bored with me) for an assistant coaching gig. Makes sense.
The other option is Dakota. Dakota's got a strong reputation for producing winning teams, and the coaching staff and organization are top notch, and it's close. Plus Memphis and Washington ignore the D-League completely. That's right, the Memphis Grizzlies, the one team that needs to concentrate on young talent more than any other, completely ignore the league specifically geared to develop young talent. They're winners. The Wizards need to send JaVale McGee down for a spell, but they won't. The Grizzlies need to send Darrell Arthur down, but they won't. Dakota makes for a solid option, particularly with how close it is.
So those are the best options for a third affiliate.
The other option is to give the Bucks a freebee. Let them assign players to any team outside of the NBA-Owned three (Tulsa, Austin, LA), provided they get permission from the other clubs. Skiles won't try and send him anywhere there are issues, and if the Bucks aren't comfortable with that assignment, they can yank him and send him elsewhere.
Worst case scenario is to deny a team affiliation. If you're going to do that, though, the list goes 1.Charlotte 2. Memphis 3. Sacramento 4. Orlando.
I hope the league comes out with a policy on this soon, but I'm not holding my breath. I'd imagine we're not going to know for a while where the Bucks' assignments are headed.
UPDATE: Spoke to a league representative that informed me that the sale is still pending a vote. Also, since the Sonics didn't move to OKC until just two months ago, the league didn't have notification before then. So the League's off the hook, but it needs to find a solution pretty quick.