The Orlando Magic now have an outpost in northwestern Pennsylvania.
After months of talks, Magic officials have finalized a one-to-one affiliation agreement with the NBA Development League’s Erie BayHawks. The agreement will begin with the 2014-15 season and is scheduled to run through the 2016-17 season.
The partnership will be what’s known as a “hybrid affiliation.” The Magic will run the BayHawks’ basketball operations, but the BayHawks’ existing ownership group will run the team’s business side and community relations.
“We’re really, really excited about joining with Erie and creating a mutual relationship,” Magic general manager Rob Hennigan told the Orlando Sentinel.
“One of our main goals is to build a consistent identity with the BayHawks and certainly try to build synergy at all levels, so I think it’ll be very beneficial. I think we’re fully committed to trying to maximize whatever we can by using the Development League, whether it be to develop the potential of our own roster players and/or other minor-league players that we feel might be a fit for us. We’re very excited about it, and we think a lot of fruit will be borne because of it.”
The affiliation between the Magic and the BayHawks is expected to be announced later today.
The Magic are now the 16th NBA team to have a one-to-one affiliation with a D-League team. Eight of those agreements are hybrid relationships. Seven NBA teams own and run their own D-League affiliates. Also, the Dallas Mavericks’ single affiliation with the Texas Legends stems from Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson’s ownership of the Legends.
When Hennigan left the Oklahoma City Thunder in June 2012 to become the Magic’s general manager, one of his goals was to create a one-to-one affiliation between the Magic and a D-League team.
The Thunder, who own the D-League’s Tulsa 66ers, have used the D-League to give their least-experienced players playing time.
Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson played a total of four games with the 66ers during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. Forward Perry Jones played in 15 games for the 66ers in 2012-13, while swingman Jeremy Lamb played in 21 games for the 66ers that season.
The Magic haven’t sent any players to the D-League since the 2010-11 season.
Geography played a role. During the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, the Magic shared the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Skyforce with several other NBA teams. This past season, the Magic shared the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Mad Ants with the Charlotte Bobcats, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks.
The distance between Orlando and Erie is less than ideal for the Magic.
Hennigan acknowledged that it creates “a hurdle in terms of how often we can have our hands on the program there.
“But,” he added, “with technology nowadays and with the way we can turn up our communication chains, I don’t see it being anything more than a slight inconvenience.”
The Magic ultimately want a one-to-one relationship with a D-League team that’s based in Florida. Jacksonville is a prime candidate for a team, but Daytona Beach also is a possibility.
Still, that goal will have to wait awhile.
NBA officials want to place any new D-League teams in geographic clusters to reduce travel costs. One of the existing clusters consists of teams in Austin, Texas; Frisco, Texas; McAllen, Texas; and Tulsa.
There aren’t any D-League teams in the Southeast, and expansion into the region likely is several years away.
In February, the Sentinel reported that the Magic were in talks with the BayHawks, whose affiliation with the New York Knicks was scheduled to end after the 2013-14 D-League season.
Hennigan said the Magic haven’t decided who will coach the BayHawks in 2014-15.
Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.