ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., July 5, 2007 – The National Basketball Association announced today its affiliation system for the 2007-08 NBA Development League season. Each of the 14 D-League teams will be affiliated with one to three NBA teams, and the NBA teams may assign players in their first two seasons to play in the D-League.
"The D-League has proven itself as a solid training ground for young players in our league. We look forward to utilizing our affiliation with the Thunderbirds as it provides a tremendous opportunity for players to work on their overall skill level and become better prepared for the NBA", Steve Kerr, Phoenix Suns General Manager and President of Basketball Operations.
This will be the Albuquerque Thunderbirds third season in the D-League. The Thunderbirds captured the D-League title in the first season under the leadership and NBA Legend Michael Cooper, who is now the Head Coach for the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks.
“With the announcement of the Albuquerque Thunderbirds as our new D-League affiliate, we will continue to put a premium on utilizing the league as an integral piece of our players’ development, as it was for 2007 Rookie of the Year Louis Amundson”, Billy King, Philadelphia 76ers President.
The league’s assignment system will enter its third season in 2007-08. Over the first two seasons, NBA teams have assigned 53 players a total of 77 times, including 30 selections from the 2005 and 2006 NBA Drafts. Last season, a total of 47 former NBA draft picks played in the D-League. Lottery selections such as Portland’s Martell Webster (6th pick overall in 2005), Golden State’s Patrick O’Bryant (9th pick, 2006) and Seattle’s Mouhamed Sene (10th pick, 2006) all were assigned to their respective team’s D-League affiliate.
"This season the D-League will be stronger than ever, with an increase from 12 to 14 teams, exciting new markets and several strong new ownership groups,” D-League President Dan Reed said. "With this strong foundation in place, the D-League will continue to serve as a critical resource for NBA teams seeking to develop the skills of their top young players.”
“We expect to continue to expand the number of D-League teams going forward which will benefit all NBA teams as they seek to develop their young talent,” said Reed.
“The assignment system provides a significant benefit to both NBA teams and our D-League affiliates,” said Stu Jackson, Executive Vice President, NBA Basketball Operations. “The NBA teams have the chance to see their young players develop through in-game experience while the D-League teams are infused with outstanding young NBA talent.”
With the D-League expanding by four teams -- Fort Wayne, Iowa, Rio Grande Valley and Utah --for the upcoming season, the league will feature a total of 14 teams. Two franchises who played in the 2006-07 season (Arkansas RimRockers, Fort Worth Flyers) will not operate during the 2007-08 season.
Entering its seventh season, the NBA Development League – the NBA’s minor league established to develop talent across all disciplines for the NBA – has relocated its headquarters from Greenville, S.C. to New York City to help foster the D-League's continued growth by giving it direct access to the support and resources of the NBA and WNBA. During the 2006-07 season, 19 NBA teams assigned 24 players to D-League rosters, and 14 NBA teams called-up 16 players (‘Gatorade Call-ups’) while 31 D-League alumni participated in the NBA Playoffs. Additionally, every referee hired by the NBA since 2002 has worked in the D-League, while coaches, athletic trainers and front office executives are also being developed. The 2007-08 NBA season will also include the first-ever D-League coach to be promoted to the NBA with Sam Vincent taking over head coaching duties for the Charlotte Bobcats.
The Thunderbirds continually stay focused on the community by participating in community events such as the Read to Achieve Program as well as D Leagues Cares. In the past two seasons the Thunderbirds have worked 2,996.50 hours in the community, staying dedicated to Albuquerque and New Mexico.
Thunderbirds 2007–08 season tickets are already on sale and can be purchased at abqtbirds.com or at Thunderbirds Front Office. For premium or group seating call the Thunderbirds office at (505) 265-DUNK.
The NBA Development League includes the Albuquerque Thunderbirds (N.M.), Anaheim Arsenal (Calif.), Austin Toros (Texas), Bakersfield Jam (Calif.), Colorado 14ers (Broomfield), Dakota Wizards (Bismarck, N.D.), Idaho Stampede (Boise), Los Angeles D-Fenders (Calif.), Sioux Falls Skyforce (S.D.) and Tulsa 66ers (Okla.). Expansion teams for the 2007-08 season have will include the Utah Flash (UT), the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Texas), Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Ind.) and Iowa Energy (IA).
Established to help grow the sport of basketball both domestically and internationally, the D-League also offers fun, family entertainment at affordable prices. For additional information on the NBA Development League, visit D-LEAGUE.com.
For information on premium seating and general information about the Albuquerque Thunderbirds call (505) 265-DUNK or log on to www.abqtbirds.com
2007-08 NBA DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE TEAM AFFILIATION
Los Angeles Clippers
San Antonio Spurs
Golden State Warriors
New Jersey Nets
Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Portland Trail Blazers
Los Angeles D-Fenders
Los Angeles Lakers
Rio Grande Valley Vipers
New Orleans Hornets
Sioux Falls Skyforce
New York Knicks