The Orlando Magic have a new D-League affiliate after the New Mexico Thunderbirds moved to Canton and were purchased by the Cavaliers. If Orlando ever decides to use the D-League, something Otis Smith has not done very often, they will head to Sioux Falls, S.D. and play for the Skyforce. The Skyforce will also have affiliations with the Heat and Timberwolves.
“I guess it could be a good thing,” Sioux Falls president Mike Heineman told Terry Vandrovec of the Sioux Falls Business Journal of adding the Magic. “It just depends if Orlando is going to assign people and if we get some of their guys into training camp.”
The D-League is expected to continue operation through the lockout although teams will not be able to assign players to teams until the lockout ends. For D-League teams, they are worried about calling in guys who played well in the preseason and training camps for NBA teams. Right now, training camps are up in the air with the lockout ongoing.
It is not like the Magic use the D-League extensively. James Augustine, Marcin Gortat and Daniel Orton are the only players to spend time in the D-League while under contract with the Magic. Their stays were not particularly long either. Augustine played eight games, Gortat played five and Orton played two.
Orton scored 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in his two games last year with New Mexico, showing off the talent that got him drafted late in the first round. But he aggravated a previous knee injury and the Magic decided to shut him down.
Again, do not expect the Magic to use the Skyforce too much as a resource. Smith believes young players get more experience and more improvement practicing with the team and under the team’s watchful eye. A rehab start or a short stint while the Magic are on a West Coast trip (as they did with Orton last year) certainly is not out of the question.
There are not many well-known players on the Skyforce’s current roster — the only one I recognize is Purdue’s Keaton Grant. The Skyforce also finished last in the D-League’s East Conference with a 10-40 record. Not that it matters. The Magic are not likely to be calling up any players for their roster any time soon.