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Knicks Outline Vision for New D-League Team

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.—Through a collaborative effort between The Madison Square Garden Company and the County of Westchester, the NBA Development League will expand to 18 teams next season. The newest becomes the exclusive affiliate of the Knicks, and will play its home games just 30 miles north of New York City, at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.

In becoming the seventh team to fully own and operate an NBA Development League franchise, the Knicks take a step forward in their ability to maximize one of professional basketball's greatest resources.

"The Knicks are looking at this as a full-fledged talent development system – but not just for player talent, which is obvious: over 30 percent of NBA players have D-League experience," said D-League President Dan Reed, after Monday's announcement. New York will have the opportunity to develop coaches (more than 30 have been called up to the NBA), trainers and any number of personnel because they also own the business side.

"The Knicks were very laudatory about their experience as a hybrid affiliate with the Erie Bayhawks and that's what turned them on to having a team so close and taking those benefits up even higher," Reed said.

Knicks Assistant General Manager Allan Houston will serve as the team's General Manager and looks forward to reaping the benefits of exclusive ownership and complete control. "Every year the number (of teams that buy into exclusive team ownership) increases because more and more teams see the value in it," he said on Monday.

With the Knicks utilizing their affiliation with Erie to foster the development of role players Jeremy Tyler and Toure’ Murry, Houston is optimistic that this new partnership can further the organization’s goals. The Knicks aim to use the D-League to provide a resource and support system for players, enabling them to reach their potential.

By installing the Knicks’ hand-picked coaching staff, it allows the team to develop specialized development plans to fit each players’ unique needs. The experience benefitted Tyler, an athletic 7-footer whose talent enabled him to go directly from high school into the professional ranks.

"Jeremy is a good story," Houston explained. "He was still mentally and emotionally in a place where he may not have been ready to be back in the NBA.

"We took that opportunity to help him understand the things that he’s going to do when he gets back to the NBA and how his role was going to be different. So we put drills, scenarios in place during practice and games to prepare him to watch guys like Tyson (Chandler) and Kenyon (Martin), to say 'This is what your role will be.' So we kind of had to shift his identity as a player while he was in Erie, and it helped him be prepared for when he came back.”

Murry represents an entirely different type of player: the four-year college athlete who used the D-League to work on weaknesses and catch the eye of scouts. Using Murry as an example, Houston explained how players could develop considering the Westchester County Center is mere miles from MSG Training Center, the practice home of the Knicks.

"Toure' didn’t get to play many games in the D-League because we always needed him," Houston said. "But if you fast forward and were in this same situation next year, we would’ve had many more times for him to play, because he could practice, play a game here, and it would be much more effective for us.”

Indeed, as the Knicks continue efforts to get this new White Plains franchise off the ground, their fans have every reason to be excited about the possibilities.

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