BOISE — It had been rumored, discussed and all but announced a couple of times before.
But now, it's official: The Utah Jazz will be full-fledged partners with an NBA Development League team this season.
The formal announcement finally came Tuesday when the Jazz issued a press release stating that they have entered into a single-affiliation partnership with the Idaho Stampede beginning with the 2014-15 NBA D-League season.
Utah, which has had five different D-League shared affiliates since 2005, thus becomes the record 17th NBA team to have a one-to-one affiliation with a D-League team.
The partnership, which is also referred to as a “hybrid affiliation,” is the ninth of its kind in the NBA D-League, according to the press release, and will enable the Jazz to manage all aspects of the Stampede’s basketball operations. Meanwhile, the Stampede's existing local ownership group, headed up by Bill Ilett, will maintain primary responsibility for the team’s off-the-court business operations and community initiatives, the release said.
"Partnering with the Idaho Stampede is another step forward in the growth and expansion of our basketball operations and will provide us with an opportunity to further enhance the development of our young players," Jazz team president Randy Rigby said. "Like the Jazz, the Stampede are a well-established franchise with a strong track record of success, and Boise’s proximity to Salt Lake and large contingent of Jazz fans make this the perfect fit. We look forward to working closely with Bill Ilett, Steve Brandes and the Stampede in our new single-affiliation partnership."
Boise, located less than 350 miles from Salt Lake City, has had a strong Jazz fan base and several ties to the Utah organization for many years. The Jazz previously shared affiliation with the Stampede during the 2006-07 and 2011-12 seasons. The Stampede won the D-League championship in 2008.
“The Idaho Stampede are thrilled to partner with the Utah Jazz, as their new single-affiliate team in the NBA D-League,” said Ilett, who is the managing investor of the Boise team. “Randy Rigby, Dennis Lindsey and their entire organization exemplify what is great about the NBA.
"We are excited to be a part of the development of their new young squad of players over the next several years. Basketball fans in Southern Idaho have always loved the Jazz and we are all now part of the Jazz family."
The Jazz held training camps on the campus of Boise State University from 2005-08 and have played eight preseason games in the state of Idaho over the years —including six games in Boise. Last October, the Jazz faced the Portland Trail Blazers in a preseason game there.
Since D-League player assignments began in 2005, the Jazz have assigned eight different players to the league with a total of 20 such assignments. The Jazz have also called up 11 players from nine D-League teams since the 2001-02 season, most recently guard Diante Garrett from the Iowa Energy. Garrett, who on Nov. 13, 2013, became the NBA’s first D-League call-up of the 2013-14 NBA season, appeared in 71 games for the Jazz last season and earned plenty of playing time.
The only Stampede player ever called up by the Jazz is a most memorable one —Sundiata Gaines, who hit one of the most famous regular-season shots in the history of the Jazz franchise. Gaines' buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer on the ninth day of his first 10-day contract with Utah propelled the Jazz past LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, 97-96, on Jan. 14, 2010.
Utah’s partnership with Idaho follows the NBA D-League’s 13th and most successful season, where 36 D-League players earned a total of 49 call-ups during the 2013-14 NBA campaign. At the end of last season, one-third of all players who were on NBA rosters had D-League experience, including six members of the Jazz.
"With 17 NBA teams now having invested in one-to-one relationships with their NBA D-League affiliates, the NBA D-League’s importance to NBA teams couldn’t be clearer," said Dan Reed, the NBA D-League's president. "The Jazz and Stampede already have a rich history of working together, and I’m sure this new partnership will be a successful one."