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Thursday, June 9, 2011
Allan Houston on running Erie D-League team

By Chris Sheridan

Alllen Houston will not be buying, nor will he be renting in Erie, Pa., in his new role as general manager of basketball operations for the Knicks new D-league affiliate, the Erie BayHawks.

He'll be telecommuting, with a hotel stay thrown in here and there.

"In the winter wonderland?" Houston said Thursday. "As much time as need be. I want to make sure I've got a feel for not only the team, but also other teams and other players. I probably won't get an apartment there, I'll probably stop in. I think through technology and through video, there will be ways we can stay abreast and keep in communication."

The Knicks will be the BayHawks’ sole NBA affiliate and will have control over the team’s basketball operations.

The partnership, also referred to as a “hybrid affiliation,” allows for NBA teams to secure control over and cover the expenses related to the basketball operations of an NBA D-League team, partnering with existing ownership. 

The Knicks are the third NBA team to enter into a hybrid affiliation with a D-League team, joining the Houston Rockets, with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and the New Jersey Nets, with the Springfield Armor. The other NBA teams with lone NBA D-League affiliates are the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs, who fully own and operate the Tulsa 66ers and Austin Toros, respectively, and the Dallas Mavericks with the Texas Legends.

The collective bargaining agreement was changed in 2005 to allow teams to send first- and second-year players to the D-League, but New York has  never sent a player to the minors -- in part because of the lack of control they'd have over the player's training and playing regimen.

"I can't give you a solid answer on why not," Houston said of the Knicks historical aversion to using the D-League to allow their players to get some seasoning. "Teams are starting to realize it's a great tool to hopefully improve your roster and see what kind of players are out there who can play in the league. About 20 percent of the players in the league (actually 23 percent) have spent time in the D-League." 

That should change next season, and it is fair to assume that second-year guard Andy Rautins (and perhaps center Jerome Jordan, who was drafted in the second round last season and spent a season playing in Serbia) will be a candidate to get some playing time in Erie.