Land of opportunity

Full minor leagues could offer players, coaches place to improve and showcase talents

Originally Published: October 3, 2012
By David Thorpe | ESPN Insider

Editor's Note: This is the third installment of a five-part series this week examining the possibility and impact of a full NBA minor league system similar to the model used in Major League Baseball. Today we explore what the impact of such a system would be on player development.

In early September, when New York Knicks legendPatrick Ewing turned down an offer to coach the team's NBA D-League Erie Bayhawks affiliate, there was a hint of indignation.

"Patrick has paid his dues," a source told ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley. "He was a little insulted."

Ewing has plenty of NBA assistant coaching experience, accruing eight years of service time on three different staffs -- the Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards. And there's no debate his preference to stay in the NBA is deserved.

However, if the NBA D-League were to expand to a 30-team, 30-affiliate model similar to Major League Baseball, effects would be profound. Perhaps aspiring head coaches such as Ewing might view the D-League not as a demotion and feel slighted, but rather as an opportunity to showcase their abilities. Aspiring NBA players wouldn't be the only ones benefiting from a full minor league system; coaching candidates would benefit, too. If handled properly, there is only upside to a full NBA minor league system and dedicated affiliates for each NBA team.

Indeed, hurt feelings are a small price to pay for what could become the most significant aspect of a successful NBA franchise in the future. Here's a look at the myriad of ways a comprehensive minor league system would benefit the NBA product.


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