On Tuesday, May 29, the Idaho Stampede announced a hybrid affiliation with the Portland Trail Blazers. They also declared that they would conduct a national search for their head coach position in which Randy Livingston, a former Stampede standout, occupied the past two seasons. On that same day, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants selected Duane Ticknor as their new head coach to help kick start this off season’s D-League coaching carousel. As with any off season in sports, the D-League is certainly susceptible to coaches landing new jobs while other play callers search the D-League classifieds.
There is a difference between what Fort Wayne was looking for in their search as to what Idaho is set to look for in their respective “nation-wide search”. With Idaho’s recent single affiliation to the Portland Trail Blazers the wants and needs for their position changes a bit as to what they will ultimately see fit for their head coach position. Whereas Fort Wayne is a multi-affiliated D-League franchise catering to the Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, and Milwaukee Bucks, their wants and needs to what they were looking forward were different.
The coach for a single affiliated D-League team is likely expected to run an offense and defense similar to what their NBA counterpart runs. By doing so, the NBA franchise can filter it’s less experienced player(s) through their respective D-League team, and help the player adjust to the speed of the game whilst learning the basic game plan of his NBA team. This is the advantage of the single affiliation. Now that Idaho has established Portland as it’s NBA big brother if you will, they will see an increase in call-ups and assignments because they now have luxury to simulate NBA-level game plans during it’s season.
What does this mean for an aspiring head coach for a single affiliated D-League club? Well, the chances of you being hired are likely higher if you are willing to accept these expectations for you to in essence, mirror what your particular NBA team is doing schematically. Also, when NBA franchises associate themselves solely to a D-League franchise they are basically setting up shop for their personnel to gain experience. Perhaps they have coaching prospects that they would like to be apart of their franchise at the NBA level and what better way to see if the puzzle piece fits, then to let them audition at the D-League level.
As the D-League moves towards more single affiliates, head coaching expectations will change. To further pad the evidence that the single affiliation trend is a successful one, the level of coaching will be raised with D-League affiliates becoming an extension of NBA franchises.