With the announcement of a new one-to-one NBA/D-League affiliation between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Iowa Energy, it's clear that basketball's minor league landscape is changing. A thirty team league is undoubtedly growing nearer, but for that to occur, there needs to be interest from each and every NBA team to do so. Each one needs to buy in, quite literally. This isn't exactly a decision the league as a whole can make on its own, especially without the support of all teams involved.
Still, there's no denying that pairing up with a single D-League affiliate is an increasingly growing trend. As it stands now, fifteen out of the minor league's eighteen planned teams for next season will be entered into single affiliations. They are as follows:
Austin Toros (San Antonio Spurs)
Canton Charge (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Delaware 87ers (Philadelphia 76ers)
Erie BayHawks (Orlando Magic)
Iowa Energy (Memphis Grizzlies)
Los Angeles D-Fenders (Los Angeles Lakers)
Maine Red Claws (Boston Celtics)
Reno Bighorns (Sacramento Kings)
Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets)
Santa Cruz Warriors (Golden State Warriors)
Sioux Falls Skyforce (Miami Heat)
Texas Legends (Dallas Mavericks)
Tulsa 66ers (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Grand Rapids ________ (Detroit Pistons)
New York _________ (New York Knicks)
Such a projected list does include the Erie BayHawks' expected affiliation with the Orlando Magic, but does not include the Bakersfield Jam's reported affiliation with the Phoenix Suns. Despite suggested reports, a one-to-one affiliation agreement between the Idaho Stampede and Utah Jazz is by no means a done deal, sources say.
Thus, the Jam, Stampede, and the NBADL champion Fort Wayne Mad Ants remain the league's three teams available to engage in affiliations with multiple NBA teams at a time. Should none of that change, moving ahead with three multi-affiliated organizations is more than doable. That's exactly how the minor league worked just this past season.
But with potential single affiliations to be formed by both the Jam and Stampede, nothing is set in stone. That would leave the Fort Wayne Mad Ants as the lone multi-affiliated team in all of the D-League.
What we can confirm, at this point, is this: each and every NBA team will still be affiliated with an NBADL club in some way next season. How exactly, that stands to work, remains to be seen. That said, what we can also confirm is that a team like the Mad Ants will not "get stuck," so to speak, with the remaining NBA teams not entered into a single minor league affiliation by next season's start.
For further reference, here are all of the NBA teams currently not entered into a single D-League affiliate (excluding the Magic):