Chances are good the LA Clippers will start a D-League team in Southern California next season, with the possibility that the latest piece in what has become a massive growth spurt by the minor league will have immediate international implications.
While the Clippers have not finalized a deal, it is known they continue to work toward an expansion franchise for 2017-18, with multiple people close to the situation saying an announcement could come soon, possibly within a couple weeks. There was no word on the specific location, only that the Clippers, like many other franchises, want the affiliate to be close for maximum flexibility in moving a player up and down, sometimes even the same day. Ontario, approximately 50 miles east, has previously been home to D-League operations and would be a strong possibility.
If the franchise does start in 2017-18, the Clippers would push harder to have 2016 second-round pick David Michineau come to the United States to develop in their system rather than spend another season in France. At the very least, the hope is that Michineau will play in summer league in Las Vegas – a switch for the Clips after being in Orlando, Fla. – amid the feeling within the organization that Michineau has a chance to become a contributor off the bench in the backcourt, especially with his defense.
The D-League is already growing from 22 to 25 teams next season, when its name will change to the Gatorade League. The franchise run by the Clippers, if it happens, would be 26 as the goal of a single affiliate for every NBA operation, rather than some clubs sharing a minor-league bench, comes closer to reality.