The Orlando Magic will announce later Monday that they have entered a one-on-one relationship with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA D-League, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reports, becoming the 16th team to have such a relationship with the NBA’s minor league system. John Dudley of the Erie (Pa.) Times-News also reported the story.
The Magic have been infrequent users of the D-League sending James Augustine and Marcin Gortat to the Anaheim Arsenal and Daniel Orton to the Reno BigHorns. The Magic have also been affiliated in the past with the Sioux Falls SkyForce and, last year, with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
One reason for Orlando not using the D-League is because they did not have control over the basketball operations and felt it was better for the young players on the team to play and learn in-house. It also did not help that the team was so far away — Orlando to Sioux Falls is not an easy commute.
This will allow the Magic to have much more direct contact with their D-League affiliate, as 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.”
It will be interesting to see how the Magic use the D-League moving forward. Teams like the Thunder shuttle their players back and forth from the D-League during the season. Players like Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb would go to the team’s affiliate in Tulsa while the team was on the road or had a day off and then get called back up when the team returned home.
Orlando still has the geography problem, but that will not be resolved until more D-League teams move to the Southeast. Orlando has expressed interest in the past in having its D-League affiliate in Jacksonville.