Thursday, May 8, 2008

D-League Looking At Halifax (Read: CLOSER TO NEW YORK)

So D-League President Dan Reed was in Halifax yesterday, long confirming what I thought to be the case, the D-League is going to take a serious look at Halifax.

The Halifax Rainmen pulled out of the ABA and are looking to join the NBA D-League.

Now, Reed's going to say what he's developed as a pretty solid line about expansion, which is that he won't jump to conclusions, that there's a lot to get done, etc. But for a city that's already proven it can host tournaments, with a franchise already in place, along with clearly committed ownership, this is not exactly rocket science.

At the end of the top article, though, is the meat of this thing, if you peer behind the PR held curtains.

In a quote from The Chronicle Herald, Reed said, "The travel costs are a concern for us," said Reed. "Our feeling in expanding into the northeast is that we would need to have enough teams in the area so that the travel costs would be reasonable not only for the new teams but for all the other teams in the league."

Huh. So you've got the Portland, Maine team with enough financial and local support to raid a small country, the brand spankin' new Eerie team (anybody got a name for those guys yet?), and a possible Halifax team. Well, that's three, but you'd really need a fourth team. And I mean, where are you going to find somewhere for a basketball team in the Northeast part of the country, I mean...


Now, the league obviously wants to be as healthy as possible, and expansion is part of that. Likewise, the sooner they get off of this system where two or three teams are sharing a D-League squad the better. Teams need to be able to trust their system, and for that they need control.

But a team in New York kills a lot of birds with one stone. One, it creates an anchor for the Northeast theoretical division. Two, it provides a financial cornerstone for the league to lean on with a market that big.

A D-League assistant coach told me earlier this year that expansion was a big concern for some of the coaches and front office staff, because over-saturation with salaries already this low could be devastating. But a New York team would boost the overall revenue for the league and possibly help with exposure, which would help with salaries and the process goes from there.

Now, Halifax owners want the team in the D-League for the 08-09 season. That ain't happening. One thing I can tell you about Reed, the guy doesn't rush into anything. He's going to make sure that any move the league makes is at the right time, the right pace, and in optimal conditions for growth. He hasn't lost a franchise on his watch yet, and I don't think he intends to. Furthermore, it would make for some really funky divisional lineups next season, because there's no way to get a fourth team available in six months. So they can kiss that dream goodbye.

However, I think in the end, Halifax will take a year off and then join the D-League, along with Portland in 09-10. From there, you're going to have to figure out if you want the Rens back in Harlem, or new ownership.

It's coming, though. I'll gaurantee you that.

Thanks to Holly MacKenzie for help with this story.

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