Blazers Plan To End Partnership With D-League's Idaho Stampede

Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

The Portland Trail Blazers plan to end their single-affiliation with the D-League's Idaho Stampede after this season.

Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports that the Portland Trail Blazers plan to end their single-affiliation with the D-League's Idaho Stampede after this season.

Following the 2013-14 season, the Blazers will end their "hybrid" relationship with their NBA Development League partners in Boise and pair up with a different minor league franchise. It's unknown what D-League affiliate the NBA will assign to the Blazers next season, but it will be a joint relationship that includes multiple NBA teams.

"We recognize the value in having a single affiliate in the NBA Development League, but at this time, we aren't in a position to maximize that value," Blazers general manager Neil Olshey said. "So, we've decided to end our single-affiliation with the Idaho Stampede after this season. We've had an excellent working relationship with the Stampede, and wish the organization nothing but the best."

His full story, with more on the thought process behind the decision, can be found here.

Paul Gerke of KIVI in Boise reports on Twitter that Idaho Stampede managing investor Bill Ilett has addressed the plans...

Ilett says the Blazers have been discussing dropping the hybrid affiliation with the Stampede for about a month.

Ilett says the Stampede like the hybrid concept, but thought the Trail Blazers felt they weren't getting their moneys worth.

The Stampede will keep the hybrid affiliation through the end of the season, but will pursue a hybrid with another NBA club afterward.

Ilett discussed the decision further in an interview on Thursday.

The Blazers announced their single-affiliation partnership with the Stampede in May 2012, a few days before Olshey was hired as GM.

The arrangement allows the Trail Blazers to assume full control over all coaching and player personnel decisions to further enhance the player development process.

"This investment in the development of our young players will pay dividends on the court and we're excited about working with the Stampede," said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller. "The hybrid partnership is closer in structure to minor league baseball with a parent club and affiliate relationship, so we feel this is an arrangement that will help us utilize the D-League system more effectively."

The Blazers then hired coach Michael Peck to coach the Stampede in September 2012. The Stampede also took on a black-and-red color scheme and logo to match the Blazers' look.

During the 2012-13 season, Portland used the Stampede on multiple occasions, sending Will Barton, Joel Freeland, Victor Claver and Nolan Smith down for D-League stints.

Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated reported on the relationship back in January 2013.

"It's invaluable,'' Olshey said of Portland's affiliation with the Stampede. "One thing you can't promise young players on an NBA team is minutes, because you can't put the team in position to suffer in terms of wins and losses.''

Portland is in its first season of hybrid affiliation with Idaho: The Blazers assign players, coaches, a trainer and other amenities to the Stampede, who are owned independently by Bill Ilett.

Shortly thereafter, Ilett expressed frustration with the Blazers in an interview with Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman.

"I'd be lying to you if I told you it wasn't frustrating. In my world, there's only one group that comes into this arena that gets to vote. And it's not the Portland Trail Blazers and it's not the owners of the Idaho Stampede. It's the people that buy tickets and come to the games," Ilett said before the game. "The entertainment package has slipped."

...

"We're concerned about winning tonight, tomorrow night and the next night," Ilett said. "Maybe they're looking at it as developmental."

...

"I look at the other teams that have hybrids in this league and they're winning games and building crowds and building an entertainment package. The Idaho Stampede and the Portland Trail Blazers need to sit down and say, ‘How do we fix this?'" Ilett said. "I don't think we have seriously looked eye to eye: How can we together solve this problem? That needs to happen soon."

At the time of those comments, the Stampede had the worst record in the D-League. Ilett would admit later than he needed to "take a pill and relax," expressing hope that the Blazers would send their players down for extended assignments. He also asserted that the Blazers and Stampede had "two cultures that need to come together" if the Stampede were going to win games.

The Blazers did not assign any of their players to the D-League during the 2012-13 season following Ilett's comments. Many of the Blazers' younger players saw increased playing time in the NBA as Portland sustained a series of injuries down the stretch.

This season, the only Blazers player to spend time in Boise was rookie guard CJ McCollum, who appeared in two games as he completed his rehabilitation from a foot injury. Allen Crabbe, a 2013 second-round pick, hasn't been assigned to the D-League, even though he's logged just 52 NBA minutes this season. Claver, who has spent much of the season on the inactive list, also has not been assigned.

The Stampede are 20-15 this season and on track for a spot in the D-League playoffs. Their roster includes Dee Bost, E.J. Singler and Dallas Lauderdale, three players who were invited to training camp with the Blazers in the fall.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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