SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Tex. — A pair of NBA general managers from Texas believe that a one-for-one affiliate setup for the D-League isn’t that far off. It probably doesn’t hurt that Daryl Morey (Houston Rockets) and Donnie Nelson (Dallas Mavericks) already operate under such setups.
“It’s a matter of time,” said Nelson, co-owner of the Texas Legends. “It makes too much sense because you have your own development team in place. You always have need for guys, whether they go down in an injury or what have you.
“We’re an evolving development vehicle. And we will become better and we will over time become more attractive. We’ll get better and better players because of forums like [the D-League Showcase] and because this is the quickest, most direct path to the NBA.”
Morey took that a step further, suggesting not only an affiliate for every NBA team, but a system similar to minor-league baseball. Currently four NBA teams — Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Oklahoma City — either own or operate basketball operations for a D-League squad. New Jersey joins that club next season.
“Every year they’ve added teams,” Morey said, “and I think eventually we’re going to get to 30 minor-league teams for 30 pro teams, and I think there might even be multiple minor league levels over time. I really believe that.”
Morey has found the Showcase beneficial from a Houston standpoint.
“My main focus is future Rockets,” he said. “Whether they’re on the Vipers or another team. We like to get as many NBA-potential guys on the Vipers as possible, but we’re looking at every team and every player.”
Nelson nearly called up former NBA first-round pick Joe Alexander earlier this week. The Mavs were in need of frontcourt depth after Caron Butler‘s season-ending injury and with Dirk Nowitzki out. Alexander, one of the top scorers and rebounders in the D-League, worked out for Dallas on Sunday along with Sasha Pavlovic.
Dallas, though, settled on Pavlovic because of his 3-point range and edge in NBA experience.
“Joe was really on par with Pavlovic as far as 3-point shooting goes and that really surprised me that he could shoot 3s like that, but Pavlovic has done it in the NBA Finals and we just haven’t seen Joe in that situation yet,” Nelson said. “And being where we are as a team that can be the difference between making it or not.”
Nelson acknowledges that the Legends, and thus the Mavericks, could be on the verge of having another NBA team call up Alexander.
“We’ll probably lose him,” Nelson said. “You lose your best player, you’re going to lose games, but that’s what we’re here for. If he makes another NBA team’s roster and we can be a small step in his career, we’re proud to do that.”
But his replacement could be here at the Showcase.
“You’ve got every NBA represented and you’ve got scouts and personnel folks from major European teams, Asia and all parts in between,” Nelson said. “This is the second-most athletic league in the world and so everyone no matter what continent they play basketball on is looking for talent. That’s what we’re all here looking for, the next J.J. Barea.
“From a Legends’ standpoint, we have a young Joe Alexander who’s getting better by the game. Sean Williams and before Antonio Daniels went down, he would have been a call up. And there’s Dominique Jones, who from a Mavericks’ perspective has the ability to play point guard in the heat of battle against this level of competition. There’s so many facets and advantages to having a single affiliate. It’s the future for sure.”
SHOOTOUT & DUNK CHAMP: Booker Woodfox of the Texas Legends won the inaugural Showcase Three-Point Contest by holding off Marcus Landry of Reno in the final round. L.D. Williams of Springfield took home the Slam Dunk Contest by outlasting Chris Johnson (Dakota) in the last round.
The other shooters were Robert Vaden (Tulsa), Corey Allmond (Fort Wayne), Chris Lofton (Iowa), Scottie Reynolds (Springfield), Jamar Smith (Maine) and Andre Ingram (Utah). The two other dunkers were Marques Blakely (Bakersfield) and Dar Tucker (New Mexico).
Both the dunk and 3-point contest air on VERSUS on Jan. 15 and Jan. 29.
Wednesday Showcase Results (times ET)
Bakersfield 105, Fort Wayne 93
Reno 111, Maine 102
Tulsa 96, Dakota 92
Rio Grande 124 , Valley Erie 106
Thursday Showcase Schedule (times ET)
Idaho vs. Springfield, 12:00 pm, NBA TV
Reno vs. Sioux Falls, 2:45 pm, NBA TV
Iowa vs. Texas, 5:30 pm, NBA TV
Austin vs. Bakersfield, 8:15 pm, NBA Futurecast