The Magic will be getting a new D-League affiliate for the 2013-14 season after the team's current affiliate, the Sioux Falls SkyForce, announced they were becoming the exclusive affiliate of the Miami Heat. The Minnesota Timberwolves were also affiliated with the SkyForce last year.
The Heat became the 13th team to have an exclusive one-on-one relationship wtih a D-League team, leaving only four teams in the league without a one-to-one NBA association. The Magic will be re-assigned a D-League affiliation with either the Reno Bighorns, the Iowa Energy, the Bakersfield Jam or the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
The Heat will gain complete control of the basketball operations for the SkyForce with owners for the team remaining local in South Dakota.
"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, in a press release. "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 Heat used the Skyforce fairly often this year, sending Jarvis Vanardo and Dexter Pittman back and forth between the main roster and the D-League throughout the season.
The Magic as an organization has not quite bought into the D-League concept. Orlando has only sent Marcin Gortat, James Augustine and Daniel Orton to the D-League since the affiliations existed. And none of the three played more than 10 games — Augustine played eight.
Otis Smith did not use the D-League much at all. Rob Hennigan hinted that he might mine the D-League after cutting Hakim Warrick in the Josh McRoberts trade. But that never happened.
It may happen this year or it may not. It is hard to tell how the Magic will use it.
The way the D-League works is that teams can send down young players to their D-League affiliate. However, NBA teams are allowed to call up any D-League player not under a current NBA contract from anywhere in the league. The complication for the Magic is that they do not have their own affiliate and there are no D-League teams in the Southeast, making it difficult for the team to shuttle young players back and forth when the team is on the road and unable to practice.
Another disadvantage is that the Magic would not have control over the basketball operations of their affiliate and so the players would not be running the Magic's stuff. And that can hinder the development the Magic want. Sometimes it is best to keep these guys home.
The Magic are not realized all the advantages for using the D-League at the moment. That does not seem about to change. So call this a minor piece of news that Orlando will have a new D-League affiliate. With so many young players — and a potential glut at power forward now — it may not be a bad idea to keep getting guys playing time, experience and confidence down at the D-League.