by Andrew Crisp
Big news for Idaho basketball was announced today at the Grove Hotel. In a suite overlooking the bowels of downtown Boise's CenturyLink Arena, Idaho Stampede officials said the team is joining forces with the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers. The Portland, Ore., team will become the Idaho Stampede's sole affiliate, fronting some of the organization's operating costs.
That move could funnel more Stampede players into the Trail Blazers. Stampede President Steve Brandes called the move "the biggest announcement in our 15-year history."
Bill Ilett, managing investor of the Stampede, exchanged jerseys with Trail Blazers assistant general manager Bill Branch to mark the announcement.
"Both organizations have the same strong work ethic, and the same passion for greatness," said Ilett. "You're going to see a younger, faster, smoother game."
Dan Reed, NBA Development League president, called the partnership—which includes the Portland organization controlling basketball operations of the Boise team—a part of a shift in the NBA's structure.
"One-third of NBA teams manage and control their own D-League team," said Reed. "I think this trend will continue."
That trend means a more traditional model of farm teams to feed the highest rung of American professional basketball. The partnership begins at the start of the 2012-2013 Stampede season.