The Magic have been D-League wanderers really since the league was created. When NBA teams began to really accept the D-League model and buy ownership stakes in their own teams, it seemed to put the Magic even further into the wilderness of this interesting new tool for NBA squads.
At the time, the Magic did not really need the D-League. Now that Orlando is in a rebuilding mode and trying to balance using veterans and developing young guys, there is some interest in using the D-League. The sharing of a D-League team in far-off Sioux Falls or, now, Fort Wayne is not appealing to Rob Hennigan and the Magic.
Orlando though hopes to take advantage of the D-League at some point. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports the Magic want a one-on-one relationship with a D-League affiliate in Florida. The problem is there are no teams currently located in the Southeast and there are no plans for expansion as of now. The league would eventually like to have a 30-team league, enabling each team to have its own affiliate and create a true minor league system.
The Magic have not been heavy D-League users. Part of the reason is the lack of a nearby affiliate. The Magic have sent only three players to the D-League in the league's history. Marcin Gortat went to Anaheim for a five-game stint in 2007, James Augustine spent eight games in the same season with Anaheim and Daniel Orton played two games in New Mexico in 2011.
Otis Smith was not a huge fan of the D-League, preferring to have players learn in practices with the Magic and gain experience that way rather than playing in games against lesser competition and not necessarily learning the Magic's offense and defense. That would be one of the advantages of having a one-on-one relationship with a D-League organization.
Rob Hennigan opened the door to using the D-League more this past season. After the J.J. Redick trade, Hennigan suggested the team might mine the D-League to fill out its extra roster spot. That never occurred, of course.
Hennigan's former team, the Thunder, have a one-on-one relationship with nearby Tulsa of the D-League. They shuttled Daniel Orton, DeAndre Liggins and Jeremy Lamb back and forth between the main club and the D-League to get them experience. The easy access and short travel made it a much more convenient arrangement.
The Magic obviously do not have that.
The teams in the D-League are clustered together thus the Magic are forced to share their D-League affiliate in Fort Wayne, a lengthy four-hour, no-direct flight trip for those curious of visiting the Mad Ants. There are no teams in the Southeast since the Florida Flame in Fort Myers folded in 2007.
With the lack of convenience to shuttle players back and forth, the Magic are not likely to use the D-League this coming year. Even the logjam at power forward might not be enough to get the Magic into the D-League trend.
So Orlando will wait to use this tool.