NBDL President Dan Reed and Mavs exec Donnie Nelson announced at a press conference this afternoon that Nelson’s ownership group has purchased the already existing NBDL team the Colorado 14ers, and will move them to Frisco, TX for the 2010-2011 season.
This, contrary to what you may think you know about the NBDL, is big news.
But before we get to the facts, let’s look into the fog:
- The team that will play in Frisco is currently nameless. Nelson dropped the news that the name will be decided in some kind of fan contest, and will be the Texas _______. I’m thinking Rangers. Or maybe Longhorns.
- The Mavs are not officially affiliated with the 14ers (which will be renamed upon their arrival in Frisco for the 2010-1011 season)…yet. They won’t be until next summer. Meaning everything going on between now in then in regards to Nelson’s convenient little relationships with both teams will have to go without assignments of current and soon-to-be Mavs.
So currently, the Mavs aren’t quite on level with the Spurs in regard to their D-League ownership of the Toros. In fact, ths situation is slightly different considering that Donnie Nelson, and not Mark Cuban, will be the owner of the _____s. Nelson would conceivably still have near complete control of basketball operations, but it should be noted that the ownership groups are indeed different.
All of that said, I fully expect Nelson to take full advantage of the Mavs’ new little brother.
The Frisco team will likely have one, maybe two other NBA affiliates. That’s fine by me. Though exclusivity is my preferred method of D-League ownership, having a Mav at the helm is the next best thing. Officially, the Mavs are allowed just two players on their roster to be assigned to their affiliate. But obviously due to Nelson’s position with the team, he can have complete influence on how the remaining roster spots of the team are filled. Plus, he gets an excellent look at the skills of the other affiliates’ assignees, which is perhaps just as valuable. Nelson put a strong emphasis in the press conference of having all of these prospects within such close proximity. All of the prospects on the team are just a short drive away, and readily available for dissection (figuratively, I hope) and evaluation.
Every team in the NBA can use more depth, and a D-League farm system is an ideal manufacturer. The coaching staff will be in the know as to the franchise’s specific goals and methods, the players are hand-chosen by Nelson himself, and the entire on-court laboratory is but a hop, skip, and a jump from the Mavs’ front office. The NBDL may fall short in churning out star power, but it can be a welcome and capable resource in terms of delivering role players to a team in desperate need of some. Antoine Wright, Ryan Hollins, and James Singleton are all useful players in some regard, but have some serious flaws. Having control of the Mavs’ D-League affiliate would not only expedite the search for capable, young role players in the future, but also the development of some of those players now. It’s essentially a year-long summer league with a pool of prospects ripe for evaluation, and allows the Mavs to turn an on-and-off program of prospect hunting into a full-time scouting and developing dynamo. Nelson has been tremendously successful in digging up talented players from the scrap heap, most recently with J.J. Barea and Brandon Bass.
This endeavor is completely worthwhile for the Mavs, especially as they focus on retooling for the future. In that vein, Tim Varner wisely advised to keep the timetable realistic. Bureacratic red tape already prevents the team from moving to Frisco until the 2010-2011 season, meaning the full benefits of team ownership will be delayed until then. I have no doubt that Nellie Minor is already trying to figure things out in regard to the roster, but even with that in mind it is going to take time for these benefits to take shape. The presence of the D-League in Frisco is a tremendous boon for the Mavs, but it’s simply a means toward better evaluation and development, not a catalyst. The process won’t necessarily be expedited beyond reasonable expectations, but rather made more thorough. The help is coming, Mavs fans. But as always, we’ll just have to wait.