08 Oct Springfield gets NBA Development League team
Basketball’s birthplace will be the home of an NBA minor league franchise next season.
The NBA has awarded Springfield a franchise in the NBA Development League, commonly known as the D-League. The new team will be introduced Tuesday at a press conference to be held at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“We could have approached the NBA about any location, in or out of New England,” said Michael K. Savit of Newton, the principal member of an ownership group that has made a $2 million investment in the franchise.
“But here, we will be located in the sport’s birthplace, where there is a rich tradition of high school and youth basketball. It also borders a basketball crazy state (Connecticut).
“There is no team in Hartford, no team in Worcester. We’re the only team in the region.”
Home games will be played at the MassMutual Center.
“The building holds 6,600 people, so we hope to have 6,600 fans each night,” Savit said. “But we are really looking at 3,500 to 4,000. We think that is realistic.”
Each D-League team is affiliated with one or two NBA teams, who supply players they consider to have NBA potential.
Savit expects Springfield to be affiliated with two NBA teams, each of which will assign one or two players. He said he will not know which teams will be involved until the end of the NBA season.
“My best guess is that they will be two teams from the Eastern seaboard,” Savit said.
The Boston Celtics are not expected to be one of them. The Celtics appear set for affiliation with a new franchise in Portland, Maine.
Savit expects Springfield and Portland to play each other numerous times, though, to control travel costs. That means Celtics prospects would come to the MassMutual Center frequently with the visiting team.
After the NBA affiliates assign a handful of players, Springfield’s roster will be filled with players acquired in a November draft. The 48-game season begins the week after Thanksgiving and continues until April, followed by playoffs.
Savit, 52, is a manager partner of Wellesley-based Hws Basketball, which will operate the Springfield franchise.
It is a newly formed subsidiary of Hws Group, which specializes in minor league baseball ownership. Hws Group currently operates baseball teams in Mobile, Ala., Modesto, Calif., and Ohio’s Mahoning Valley.
Savit said the Springfield ownership group involves about a dozen Pioneer Valley investors. He declined to disclose names, saying they all have minor shares and could be joined by additional local investors.
Hws Basketball will be responsible for hiring a coach. Savit said that won’t occur until the identity of the NBA parent clubs is known, the better to match the coach with a specific system.
The team’s name, logo and colors are still to be determined, Savit said.
The D-League is for prospects – it is where a young player looks for exposure and experience, not a career.
The top salary is generally around $24,000.
Springfield and Portland represent the D-League’s first ventures into New England. The current league’s easternmost franchises are in Erie, Pa., and Fort Wayne, Ind.
At a time investors of all kinds are approaching the weakened economy with trepidation, Savit is speaking confidently about the growth potential of the D-League and his new franchise.
“I’m looking beyond the current economic climate,” he said. “With the NBA fully behind this league, I think the value of these franchises will appreciate.
“This will be great for Springfield, great for Western Massachusetts, great for the NBA, and hopefully great for the investors. That’s my gamble, but I believe in Springfield.”
Source: Masslive/The Republic