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Heat get their own D-League team

Jun 10, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT

Juwan Howard, Dwyane Wade, Jarvis Varnado AP

The Miami Heat surely have designs of contending for championships for the next several years, even though LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can each become free agents in any of the next three offseasons after this one. Of course, the Heat plan to keep all three, and at this point, losing them would be so devastating, Miami should plan as if all three will stick around.

But the Heat will face more challenges.

One, they’re old. Ray Allen (37), Shane Battier (34), Chris Andersen (34), Mike Miller (33) and Udonis Haslem (33) have reached the age where their usefulness could end at any moment. Even Wade (31) has looked past his prime lately.

They also won’t have much cap flexibility as long as the Big Three remain together. With significant financial commitments in future seasons, the Heat can’t pay free agents top dollar. Though Miami can probably find veterans willing to take cheap deals in exchange for a chance at a ring, the Heat probably don’t want a team completely lacking youth and the energy and athleticism that come with young players.

That proves problematic considering the Heat owe the Cavaliers their first-round pick this year and in 2015. Though Miami gets a future pick from the 76ers, that’s lottery protected, so it might not get sent for a while.

So, where does an old team without cap room and limited draft picks find young players? The D-League, and that’s why the Heat are investing in the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Official release:

The Miami Heat, the Sioux Falls Skyforce and the NBA Development League today announced that the Heat and the Skyforce have entered into a single affiliation partnership beginning with the 2013-14 NBA D-League season. Miami becomes the record 13th NBA team to have a one-to-one affiliation with an NBA D-League team.
The Heat, which joins the Philadelphia 76ers as the second NBA team to become singly affiliated with an NBA D-League team this offseason, will be Sioux Falls’ sole NBA affiliate and will have full control over the team’s basketball operations. To further solidify the relationship, the Skyforce has adopted Miami’s red, yellow and black color scheme and signature font beginning with next season.
This partnership, also referred to as a “hybrid affiliation,” is the sixth of its kind in the NBA D-League and allows an NBA team to pay for and control the NBA D-League team’s basketball operations, while existing local ownership maintains primary responsibility for the team’s off-the-court business operations and community initiatives.

“This partnership between the Heat and Skyforce further demonstrates the growing importance of an exclusive NBA D-League affiliate for NBA team player, coach, and staff development,” said Dan Reed, NBA D-League President. “We’re excited about the positive impact this record 13th ‘one-to-one’ affiliation will have for both teams and the league as a whole.”

The Nets, Celtics, Rockets, Knicks, Trail Blazers, Cavaliers, Warriors, Lakers, Thunder, 76ers, Spurs and Mavericks also have their own D-League affiliates.

That leaves four D-League teams for the NBA’s other 17 teams to share.

Having its own D-League affiliate can be costly for an NBA team, but we’re clearly headed toward a 30-team D-League with every NBA team having its own affiliate. With strategically placed affiliations (not exactly Miami and Sioux Falls), NBA teams could reach fans in the periphery of their regions by offering a cheaper alternative to NBA games. Eventually, we might even see the draft expand by a few rounds so NBA teams can stock their D-League affiliates.

  1. rickyspanish - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    I’m tired of people saying Wade is past his prime, he’s injured. He was 20-5-5. This season.

    • jcmeyer10 - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:09 PM

      Thumbs up and thumbs up for the American Dad reference. I just named my dog Rupert Theodore Bonkers after the Case of Grandpas Key episode.

      I hate Wade as a player but I agree with the above sentiment.

    • money2long - Jun 10, 2013 at 5:39 PM

      i see past the rough patches this season. wade is still the man. i’d take him on my team in a heartbeat. matter of fact, i’d take him before my heart beated.

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 10, 2013 at 7:16 PM

      Point is, he’s closer to the end of his career than he is to the beginning, unless he plays 9 or more years to the age of 40.. He is a great player, and you can be great for a long time, but you can’t be great forever. Heat would be wise to understand that he may not be around a whole lot longer, especially with his injury history. I think the wording was poor though.

  2. brianjoates - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    This will be great for professional basketball ,once every team has a minor league franchise.
    Hopefully, the league can institute a new draft policy. You can enter your name in the draft after your senior year in HS, but if you choose to go to college you must stay for at a minimum of two years.

    • fanofthegame79 - Jun 10, 2013 at 4:20 PM

      That’s not a bad idea…assuming you mean that if a players declares themselves eligible after high school, they go into the D-league and get some kind of salary. I see this similar to what baseball does with their minor league clubs.

  3. glink123 - Jun 10, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    Love the idea of extending the draft one additional round, for D-League assignment. You’d need to require this be a collegiate player, though. Doubtful that an overseas player would report to a D-League team.

    • Kurt Helin - Jun 11, 2013 at 2:32 AM

      Within two years half the guys picked in the second round are out of the league (actually, at least 10 don’t make it the first year). I get the idea, but it’s not needed, if you’re not drafted you can go to the D-League or to Europe (and make more money) and develop your skills.

  4. glink123 - Jun 10, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    Also, as a Des Moines, IA resident, I can tell you that the Iowa Energy is a fantastic way to spend an evening with your sons. Cheaper than a movie ticket, and they quality of play is better than all but the best college programs.

  5. miamatt - Jun 10, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    FINALLY, I can watch somebody besides the LAKERS when I want to see just-below-NBA-quality basketball.

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 11, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      You only wish your team can produce the history the Lakers have.

  6. deiong - Jun 10, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    just watching wade you can tell he’s got one or two more half decent seasons in him if he doesn’t get injured.., then its what ever team will let him latch on to extend the life in the nba.

  7. badintent - Jun 10, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    I already know who the starting center will be …. Posh Bosh.Learning to rebound and play in the paint.

  8. tcclark - Jun 11, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    This concept works in theory, but I worry about it’s actual execution. The idea behind it is to improve the quality of basketball put on the court. By giving players time to develop before joining the NBA you will reduce the number of busts that we have in today’s NBA. This SHOULD work like it does in baseball and hockey where the majority of Draft Picks play in the minor leagues before joining the major league affiliate.

    Unfortunately, David Stern has watered down the quality of basketball so much that I see this as having little actual benefit to the game. It is a star driven league and the fact is that stars in the NBA are stars when they get here. They don’t develop into stars. They get star treatment because of their names the moment they step onto the court. This may help improve competition, but the NBA will do what it needs to do to make sure teams like the Heat and Lakers succeed and the Nuggets and Pacers fall short.

    This is a step in the right direction for the NBA, but it still needs a hard salary cap, the removal of the Max Contract to allow small market teams to outbid large market teams for a players service, a revert back to the days of more physical defensive pressure, and the removal of “star treatment.” If a star player fouls someone, call it. If they foul out, oh well.

    For once the NBA should take after the NHL. That league has it’s stars like Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin, but a team like the Penguins with two of the biggest stars in the the NHL can lose to a team with no real stars come playoff time. The parity in the NHL is fantastic. The playoffs are so exciting when an 8th seeded kings beat a 7th seeded Devil in the Stanley Cup finals last year. It’s anyone’s game come playoff time. I wish the NBA were the same.

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