Philadelphia 76ers Acquire New D-League Franchise

April 30, 2013

Philadelphia 76ers announced the acquisition and relocation of an NBA Development League franchise that will play its games beginning this November in Newark, medic Delaware and be known as the Delaware 87ers.

“This Development League team is just the next step in what we’ve said we’re going to do, which is to really improve and facilitate a high-quality basketball operation and to bring a consistent winner to Philadelphia,” said Managing Owner Josh Harris during Saturday’s announcement.

When the NBA Development League was established in the fall 2001, it featured just eight teams, all located in the southeastern United States. Today, there are 17 Development League franchises spanning 13 states, with all 30 NBA teams holding some type of affiliation with a D-League club. However, unlike in Major League Baseball, direct ownership of minor league teams is still rare for franchises in the NBA.

The acquisition of the 87ers makes the Sixers one of just six teams with 100 percent, direct ownership of a Development League affiliate, joining the San Antonio Spurs (Austin Toros), Los Angeles Lakers (L.A. D-Fenders), Golden State Warriors (Santa Cruz Warriors), Cleveland Cavaliers (Canton Charge), and Oklahoma City Thunder (Tulsa 66ers). For those teams, the benefits of their close D-League relationship are palpable.

“(The six teams who directly own their Development League affiliate) are on the cutting edge of a growing trend in the NBA,” said D-League President Dan Reed. “With some recent rules changes to the collective bargaining agreement in the NBA, we’ve seen an explosion in player movement from the NBA to (the D-League).

“In all, 132 current NBA players (roughly one-third of all players in the league) have D-League experience.”

In addition to the logistical advantages of having a D-League affiliate less than an hour drive away, sovereignty over the coaching and front office staffs of the 87ers will be beneficial as well.

“The Delaware Sevens will have the exact same systems, strategies, and plays as the parent 76ers team,” said Sixers CEO Adam Aron. “(This means) if a player is playing (in Newark) Wednesday night and needs to be called up to play for the Sixers on Friday, there won’t be a lag, and there won’t be learning a whole new set of terms and plays.

“This is one of the things that makes (the relationship) so synergistic and something we can’t do if we just have a loose affiliate relationship with some (D-League) team that’s involved with three or four other (NBA) teams.”