Life in the "D-League" isn't easy. Teams hold tryouts at local churches or high schools. You aren't pampered, nor paid a lot of money. You play in front of crowds of a few dozen people. When kids hoop it up in the playground, no one dreams of playing for the Arkansas Rimrockers [but who dreams of playing for the Clippers, either?].
So why would anyone want to play in this league? Low pay, no crowds, small towns. Why?
Well, because this will be the NBA's first stop shop. When teams need players on their roster, they'll look here first. For the first time, teams will now allocate players from their organization to these rosters. That will give those guys some playing time instead of watching from the bench.
But not all of these guys will already have NBA jobs. Many in this league are not only trying to get into the door....but back into the door. A lot of these guys were drafted into the NBA. Some had some run. But, playing time, development and sometimes need knocked them out of the league. These guys know that (a) they are being coached by NBA "sanctioned" coaches....(b) they will get closely looked at....and (c) their contracts aren't binding where they could make a quick leap when a job comes up.
Today, the NBA unveils what teams will allocate players to which D-League teams. Interesting messes.
ALBUQUERQUE THUNDERBIRDS: They are coached by Michael Cooper, who will be the first person to be a head coach in the NBA, WNBA and the D-League. This franchise [who was the Huntsville Flight last season] seems to have some promise, as Andre Agassi is an investor [actually, in a company that owns 4 D-League teams] and they have some solid partnerships in the community [read: casinos]. Jazz, Suns, Kings and Sonics will feed this team.
ARKANSAS RIMROCKERS: Arkansas won the D-League title last year. Joe Harge is their head coach. Hawks, Cavs, Grizzlies and Raptors fill up this team. And those teams need to develop players.
AUSTIN TOROS: A new team that will be coached by former Sonic and CelticDennis Johnson. The Toros will be the farm team for the Nuggets, Spurs, Rockets and Clippers.
FAYETTEVILLE PATRIOTS: Fayetteville is a military town and might as well be named "Ft Bragg City". The Spurs Devin Brown was once a Patriot. It is also the team that Omar Cook played for last season. The Bobcats, Knicks and Pistons will be the parent club of the Pats.
FLORIDA FLAME: Jeff Malone [aka "The Other Malone On The Jazz"] will become the head coach of the Flame [DJ was last year before heading to Austin]. Current LA Laker Smush Parker played for the Flame last season. Heat, Magic, Celtics and Wolves will send talent to Florida.
FT WORTH FLYERS: Another new team...this one coached by former point guard Sam Vincent. Warriors, Lakers, Mavericks and Blazers
ROANOKE DAZZLE: Mikki Moore was a former Dazzle that just signed on with the Seattle Sonics. The Nets, Sixers and Wizards will send guys to the Dazzle.
TULSA 66ERS: Joel Meyer, former DePaul head coach, will take over the 66ers. The Hornets, Pacers, Bucks and Bulls will send guys to Tulsa. Interesting that the Hornets are picked as Tulsa's parent club..since they are currently working on a lease to play the 2005-6 season in nearby Oklahoma City.