Out of the top 15 teams who are considered to be the most valuable NBA franchises according the latest Forbes report, only four lack a 'one-to-one' relationship with their respective NBA D-League affiliate. All five teams who fully own and operate by their NBA D-League affiliate cracked the top 16.
Obviously, NBA teams and franchises that are profitable will be more likely to have the financial flexibility to be able to afford owning and operating their own NBA D-League team. However, with the newly established Collective Bargaining Agreement teams are increasing their profits, meaning the likelihood for more NBA teams to invest in the NBA D-League is a greater possibility. But does a fully owned or hybrid 'one-to-one' relationship translate to a higher profitability for NBA D-League affiliates?
RidiculousUpside.com reached out to an anonymous team source from the Idaho Stampede, a team who established a hybrid single affiliation with the Portland Trail Blazers this past offseason. "It seems that walk-up has increased, and also with the general exposure related to our connection to the Trail Blazers, interest has increased as well." The Portland Trail Blazers were ranked 15th overall on the Forbes list, and are working out the early kinks that can often be seen when a team is first discovering how to best use their single affiliation relationship. However, both franchises are making strides in the right direction.
The Maine Red Claws were another NBA D-League team who established a hybrid single affiliation recently. Their NBA affiliate, the Boston Celtics ranked 4th overall on Forbes list. Maine is currently the 2nd best team in the NBA D-League according to their record, and have enjoyed quick success in their new relationship with the Boston Celtics. Based upon the teams in the top 15 of Forbes list, the Chicago Bulls rank third in total value, yet are without a 'one-to-one' relationship with their D-League affiliate. Will this soon change?
According to the Forbes report, only eight teams lost money compared to 15 teams from the previous season. With teams increasing their profits, perhaps the bottom 14 teams (all of which are without a 'one-to-one' affiliation with their D-League team) on the Forbes list will be more inclined to invest in their existing NBA D-League affiliates or even create new ones? The NBA D-League will likely expand in the coming years creating more opportunities for teams to align themselves with their NBA affiliates in a 'one-to-one' fashion. It is proving to be a winning formula for both the NBA franchise and the D-League affiliate.
Last season, the Austin Toros squared off against the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the NBA D-League finals. Both teams are owned and operated by their successfully storied NBA affiliates, the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers.
As it stands Bakersfield and Sioux Falls are the only two teams in the NBA D-League's top 8 teams that are without some form of a 'one-to-one' relationship. In fact, Bakersfield has the top record in the entire league, but are the affiliate for the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors, and Atlanta Hawks. Every NBA team that Bakersfield is affiliated with is in the bottom half of the Forbes list.
However, with a team like the Los Angeles Clippers, who are revitalizing their historically weak franchise with an influx of youthful talent and building of a brand in a large market, investing in an NBA D-League franchise may be a next step in building their franchise. Bakersfield has proven that a single affiliate relationship isn't necessary for their franchise to be successful on the court, but a 'one-to-one' relationship with an NBA franchise on the up and coming in terms of value (Clippers) would undoubtedly benefit the club even more.
This upcoming offseason, I expect more teams to establish 'one-to-one' affiliations and as teams continue to turn in higher profits, it's safe to assume that an expansion in the NBA D-League will be a likely result.