Wednesday night, the Orlando Magic will visit the New Orleans Pelicans for a preseason game in Jacksonville, their first in the River City since October 18th, 2008. And as Don Coble of the Florida Times-Union reports, the Magic want to strengthen their relationship with Jacksonville by having an NBA D-League franchise based there.
"We've made it clear to the [NBA] league we’d like to make this happen," Magic CEO Alex Martins told Coble.
Jacksonville is currently home to the Jacksonville Giants, an ABA franchise which began play in 2010. Giants owner Ron Sholes told Coble that one of his goals, when he founded the team, was for it to eventually grow into a D-League franchise.
Of the 17 NBA D-League franchises, 14 have a single-affiliate relationship with an NBA club, leaving 13 NBA teams to share the three non-affiliated D-League teams. Orlando's affiliate for the 2013/14 season is the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, based out of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The distance between Orlando and Fort Wayne complicates the Magic's potential to benefit from the D-League.
"If we send someone there for rehab it's hard to monitor them," Martins said. "Distance is an issue. It's too far away."
In August, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported that Orlando indeed wanted its own D-League affiliate.