Idaho Stampede closing in on new NBA affiliate

dsouthorn@idahostatesman.comMarch 29, 2014 

— The Stampede finished their regular season home schedule Saturday night, and when the team returns next season, there will be change.

A new NBA affiliate will be the most notable difference, as the Portland Trail Blazers announced last month they would no longer maintain the partnership after this season.

Stampede Managing Investor Bill Ilett said Saturday he hopes to find a team for a single partnership within the next 60 days. If not, Idaho will be affiliated with more than one NBA franchise.

"We put the 'for rent' sign in the front yard, and right now we've got two teams in aggressive discussions with us,'' Ilett said.

Ilett declined to identify the two teams, but said the ones that make sense geographically "may or may not'' be in the hunt. The Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets do not have a single-team affiliation in the D-League.

The Stampede will also have a new coach; current coach Michael Peck was hired by the Blazers, and he'll move on after his first season as a pro coach. Peck was 42-55 in two seasons in Idaho.

"I'd really like the coach to be in place by the summer so we can be there courtside at (summer league) games in Las Vegas to really get on the same page, get to know the players,'' Ilett said.

Pointing to an 18 percent increase in attendance from last season, Ilett said he hopes to capitalize on that with a playoff berth next season, which would be the team's first since 2008-09.

OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS

The Stampede's offensive woes continued, as they had their fewest points in a game this season in a 98-79 loss to the Reno Bighorns on Saturday at CenturyLink Arena.

Idaho (23-24) was eliminated from the playoff chase after its fifth straight loss. Former Boise State standout Jason Ellis had six points and seven rebounds in his last home game. He is expected to retire after this season.

The Stampede's top scorer, Kevin Murphy, averaging nearly 26 points per game, was ejected 1:23 into the game after being assessed two technical fouls.

Dave Southorn: 377-6420; Twitter: @IDS_Southorn

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