NEW YORK, July 7, 2011 –– The Cleveland Cavaliers, the NBA Development League and the City of Canton, Ohio announced today that the Cavaliers have purchased the NBA D-League’s New Mexico Thunderbirds and will relocate the team to Canton beginning with the 2011-12 season. The Cavaliers will fully control both the business and basketball operations of the team and will be its lone NBA affiliate, making Cleveland the fifth NBA team to own and operate its NBA D-League affiliate.
“We’re very excited to welcome the Cleveland Cavaliers to a rapidly expanding group of NBA teams realizing the advantages of an exclusive relationship with their NBA D-League affiliate,” said NBA D-League President Dan Reed. “The combination of supportive city leadership and an outstanding organization in the Cavs leads us to believe the future of the team in Canton is very bright. We thank Sam and Jackie Bregman, as well as the fans in New Mexico, for their support of the Thunderbirds organization during the team’s six years in the Albuquerque area.”
The Cavaliers also become the ninth NBA team to have a ‘one-to-one’ affiliate in the NBA D-League, the NBA’s official minor league. The Golden State Warriors (Dakota Wizards), Los Angeles Lakers (Los Angeles D-Fenders), Oklahoma City Thunder (Tulsa 66ers) and San Antonio Spurs (Austin Toros) also fully own and operate their NBA D-League affiliates. The Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers), New Jersey Nets (Springfield Armor) and New York Knicks (Erie BayHawks) have ‘hybrid’ partnerships with their affiliates, controlling those teams’ basketball operations, while the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks are solely affiliated with the Texas Legends.
“Having the ability to own and operate a D-League franchise in Canton once again illustrates ownership’s outstanding commitment to creating a culture of success,” said Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant. “Player development is at the core of our process and being able to operate our own franchise so close to home will place us in the most strategic position to take an active part in the player development process.”
The Cavaliers’ new affiliate will play the 2011-12 season at the Canton Memorial Civic Center. Scott Woodruff, an experienced member of the Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena organization, was named the team’s Chief Operating Officer. Woodruff spent the past two seasons as the Vice President of Ticket and Corporate Sales for the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters, part of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s family of sports and entertainment interests.
“We are very excited and looking forward to a great partnership with the City of Canton, fans and the surrounding community,” said Cavaliers President Len Komoroski. “We have a strong connection with the Canton regional market and we are excited to further engage our fans with a first-class basketball and entertainment experience. We will be active in the community and will work hard to earn support from our fans here.”
The Cavaliers are inviting fans to submit their team name suggestions starting immediately at www.CantonNBA.com. Fans can also follow the new Canton franchise, @NBACanton, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CantonNBA and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CantonNBA