NBA's Portland Trail Blazers end agreement with D-League Idaho Stampede

bmurphy@idahostatesman.comFebruary 27, 2014 

— The Idaho Stampede are looking for a new NBA partner.

The NBA's Portland Trail Blazers have opted to end their agreement with Boise's NBA Development League team after two seasons, Stampede managing investor Bill Ilett confirmed to the Idaho Statesman on Thursday. The teams have been in discussions for more than a month about their agreement, which included an opt-out for Portland after the 2013-14 season.

"Everything's fine. We'll go on. One of the reasons that they gave us notice this early is so we can go look for another hybrid opportunity," Ilett said.

Ilett has long been a proponent of the Stampede having a one-to-one relationship with an NBA organization. The Blazers controlled the Stampede's basketball operations, including hiring coaches and installing offensive and defensive schemes, while the local owners ran the franchise's business side. It is known as a "hybrid" relationship. Before last season, the Stampede tweaked their logo and uniform colors to better mirror Portland.

Some NBA teams own their own D-League teams. Others share D-League teams.

“We recognize the value in having a single affiliate in the NBA Development League, but at this time, we aren’t in a position to maximize that value," Blazers general manager Neil Olshey told the Oregonian. "So, we’ve decided to end our single-affiliation with the Idaho Stampede after this season. We’ve had an excellent working relationship with the Stampede, and wish the organization nothing but the best.”

Portland assigned just one player — rookie CJ McCollum — to the Stampede this season. McCollum played two games for Idaho as he worked his way back from injury. NBA teams have made 137 assignments involving 51 players to D-League teams this season.

"They haven't used it as much," Ilett said.

The Blazers plan to take much of their development of young players in-house, Ilett said.

"They're not getting out of the deal with the Idaho Stampede to do it with someone else," he said.

Ilett said the Stampede would try to find a single affiliate for next season. The Utah Jazz makes the most sense for several reasons, including geography and past relationships between the two organizations. The Blazers played the Jazz in an exhibition game at CenturyLink Arena this preseason.

The Jazz do not currently have a single affiliate in the NBA Development League.

Of the 17 D-League teams, 14 maintain a 1-to-1 relationship with an NBA franchise. The other three D-League teams can be assigned players from several NBA teams.

The relationship between the Stampede and Blazers was a bit rocky last season with Ilett complaining publicly about the team's on-court performance. But things have been smoothed out and the relationship is good, Ilett said.

"When you go into a hybrid relationship, especially after we've been an independent team for 15 years, there's a learning curve. There was some pain and some pleasure. If we did it again, we're kind of up to speed on how we can be a better partner and how we can help the NBA team be a better partner," Ilett said.

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