Kings Partner with Bighorns

Find out how a hybrid affiliation between the Kings and Reno Bighorns provides Sacramento an advantage in scouting and evaluating up-and-coming players.

As the Kings continue to identify, develop and cultivate young talent, Sacramento’s NBA D-League affiliate – the Reno Bighorns – will play a more integral role than ever in the process.

Thursday, the Kings became the 14th NBA team to foster a single-affiliation partnership with a D-League club and the seventh to enter into a “hybrid” model, giving Sacramento’s front office complete authority over Reno’s basketball operations.

“To have control of basketball operations is the first and foremost part of this (partnership) because for our fans and for our organization, it all starts on the hardwood,” said Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro.

“It’s a great opportunity for our on-the-floor talent and our development, as well.”

While in years past Sacramento – which has partnered with the Bighorns since Reno’s inaugural 2008-09 campaign – has shared its affiliation with fellow NBA squads, the new arrangement will allow the Kings to fully manage on-court aspects, including playing style, player minutes and lineup decisions.

“I’ve been in other organizations where we shared (our D-League franchise) with three teams, and you get multiple players coming in and then a coaching staff that isn’t sure who the loyalty should be to – it’s a very difficult situation,” explained D’Alessandro. “Now, we’re running basketball operations and we’re going to run it the way we would run it – Sacramento Kings style – so it’s a much better situation for us.”

With the arrangement launching at the start of the 2013-14 D-League season, the Kings front office and coaching staff is able to scout and access potential Bighorns invitees as early as NBA Summer League action.

“It gives me, as an evaluator, the chance to evaluate 12 other players who we can’t get into the Sacramento Kings fold under our rules in the NBA,” said D’Alessandro. “Now, we’ll get to know them as people (and) as players in a way you can never get to know them by watching video.

“We will identify more talent than we ever did before. We’ll be looking at more talent and a bigger umbrella of talent than we’ve ever even thought about looking at.”

Once the regular season is underway, D’Alessandro and Assistant General Manager Mike Bratz plan to maximize Sacramento’s partnership with Reno, which will allow the Kings to send players with three or fewer years of NBA experience, as well as assign any consenting veterans as part of rehab assignments.

“During the course of a season, a lot of times young players don’t get an opportunity to play in games – they’re (only) practicing – and if a team has a lot of games in a short period of time, they’re not getting on the floor,” said Bratz. “This will give some of the younger players or someone with an injury a chance to get some game time, live action, which you can’t duplicate in practice all the time.”

D’Alessandro and Bratz plan to huddle up with Head Coach Michael Malone throughout the year to decide if any Kings players would benefit from extended court time to hone their respective skill sets with the Bighorns.

“If we have to send a young player (to the D-League), it’s never fun for him, but I’ve tried to tell guys in the past – it’s not a punishment to (play in the D-League),” said Bratz. “It’s an opportunity to work on your game, to keep sharp, so you’re ready when you get a chance with the (NBA) team.”

“I think for us now, being affiliated with this team, it won’t sting (for assigned players) quite as much because it’s our team, it’s what we plan on doing and it’s part of our program,” affirmed D’Alessandro. “I think in the past, Mike and I have been in situations where it was another team on the outside. Here, this is us – it’s our coaches, our staff.”

While Bighorns basketball staff roles will be finalized in the coming months, the Kings front office plans to identify a “face of the franchise,” while establishing a longstanding relationship with the organization.

“This is just natural for us to be here, with a two-hour (commute) and then to have an ownership group here that reflects a lot of the vision we have,” said D’Alessandro.

“It needs to be a marriage on the business side, on the community side and on the floor. I’m excited about the time I’ll get to spend here, and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Free Throws

- The Kings join the Boston Celtics (Maine Red Claws), Brooklyn Nets (Springfield Armor), Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers), N.Y. Knicks (Erie BayHawks), Miami Heat (Sioux Falls Skyforce) and Portland Trail Blazers (Idaho Stampede) as NBA teams with hybrid affiliations.

- Watch a replay of Thursday’s press conference, featuring D’Alessandro, Bratz, Bighorns Owner Herb Santos Jr. and D-League President Dan Reed – Click Here

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