(Ontario, CA –) As first reported by ESPN.com, the LA Clippers are on the verge of launching a Development League team based in Ontario! Expected to be called the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, the franchise will start play next fall and will become the 26th team in the D-League.
An official announcement is expected later this month. Providing the franchise with a direct pipeline of talent from its own minor league affiliate.
The Clippers are one of few NBA teams without a direct affiliate, a fact Coach Doc Rivers often lamented.
“It’s vital,” he said earlier this month when asked about adding a D-League team. “It’s huge. We have to get younger players here and we have to have the ability to make them great players. And we haven’t had that ability.”
Rookies Brice Johnson and Diamond Stone both spent time in the D-League last season, with Stone appearing in four games with the Santa Cruz Warriors and nine with the Salt Lake Stars. Johnson played six games with the Stars.
Those assignments, however, were not on the Clippers’ terms.
With their own D-League team, the Clippers will be able to build a to-scale model of their NBA operation, with schemes and practices designed in Rivers’ mold. The team could theoretically send a player on an assignment one night and recall him the next night for an NBA game.
The Lakers have had the same arrangement with the L.A. D-Fenders – who became the South Bay Lakers at the conclusion of last season – since that team’s formation in 2006.
The NBA is moving toward a one-to-one affiliation system, where every team controls its own minor league squad. Starting next season, the D-League will become known as the NBA Gatorade League.