In preparing for the upcoming NBA D-League season, minor league teams have already begun the open tryout process. Each squad's respective staff will keep its eyes open, currently on the prowl for surprising talent. The tryout process allows each team to cast a wider net, giving those previously unseen players a chance to strut their stuff and be seen once and for all.
As NBA and D-League squads continue to form exclusive one-to-one relationships, the minor league squads remain close in proximity, and as such, host their open tryouts rather locally. But one team has it harder than others.
Call it a blessing or a curse, but the defending D-League champion Fort Wayne Mad Ants (the league's sole remaining independent franchise) will host an all-time high thirteen NBA affiliates this coming season. With that in mind, they'll be traveling across the country over the next month (from New Jersey to Los Angeles and a handful of spots in between) in hopes of finding talent closer to each of their respective affiliates.
This allows a team like the Mad Ants to cast quite a wide net for talent. But what if that net were able to be cast even wider?
What about Seattle? This is a question basketball fans have been asking for years. Since the Seattle Supersonics left for Oklahoma City to become the Thunder, that same passionate community has been hungry for basketball. Every time speculation arises that a respective team may relocate (from the Kings, Bucks, and most recently, the Hawks), Seattle appears to, almost by default, be in the conversation.
Whether or not the D-League should have a team in Seattle is another debate to be had entirely. At the very least, however, perhaps a team like the Mad Ants should hold tryouts there. Aside from the fact that such an appearance would satisfy the community's craving (albeit it, a little bit), there's little doubt a D-League team would strike gold if they came looking for talent in Seattle.
Though the city still has a void to be filled by an NBA team, there's been no shortage of related competition. For starters, the IBL's very own up and coming Seattle Flight plays a select few games there each summer. The squad is backed by former Sonics star Shawn Kemp, and his wife, Marvena. Just this past season, the likes of former NBA player Will Conroy, Marcellus Kemp (son of the former Sonics' star), and former Lamar standout Mike James all hit the hardwood for the Flight at some point.
Earlier this summer, RidiculousUpside.com spoke with James about his participation in the Seattle Pro-Am, which is headed by NBA stud sixth man Jamal Crawford. Over the course of the summer months, James matches up against current and former NBA stars, international veterans, D-League prospects, and others simply hoping for a shot to break into the game. If there's one thing they have in common, it's that most, if not all of them, hail from Seattle.
Despite the ongoing speculation and/or hope that simply stands to continue, one can only wonder when (if at all), the NBA will return to Seattle. But in the meantime, the D-League could provide a worthwhile assist by opening up its tryout process even further to pluck a few prospects from the city and inject some Seattle blood back into the league, in some form.