Development League: Flash form model for D-League
OREM - On the court, the Utah Flash just missed the playoffs, but can still finish with a .500 record by winning their final two games.
Off the court, NBA commissioner David Stern told Flash owner Brandt Andersen that his expansion franchise has become a model for others in the Development League.
Not a bad beginning for Utah's minor-league basketball team - the Jazz-affiliated Flash who close their inaugural season with games against Iowa (tonight) and Los Angeles (Saturday) at the McKay Events Center.
"We're happy with the fan support and the sponsor support," Andersen said. "From a business standpoint, it's been great. I wish we would have won more games. Performance-wise, I'm not quite as happy. But from a business perspective, it's gone very well."
"The commissioner told me they're measuring other teams' success on our success," Andersen said. "In the D-League, they don't care as much if you win or lose. They want to see fans showing up and they want to see teams not losing a million dollars. Fortunately, we've had fans showing up and we haven't lost a million dollars."
According to general manager David Fredman, the Flash's record (23-25) reflects his approach to building the franchise.
"We purposely went young," Fredman said. "Personally, I didn't believe in getting a lot of 30-year-old D-League veterans who have no chance to play in the NBA. That probably cost us some wins. . . . [But] I think there is wisdom in trying to build it this way."
"We've had some ups and downs," said coach Brad Jones. "But, most of the year, we started four rookies and our record probably reflects that. But we've been in almost every game - we haven't been blown out very often - and our players have gotten better."
Another key to the Flash's season has been the establishment of a working relationship with their NBA affiliates - the Utah Jazz and, to a lesser degree, the Boston Celtics.
Despite brief call-ups, Jazz rookies Morris Almond and Kyrylo Fesenko spent most of the season with the Flash. Boston draft pick Gabe Pruitt has also been assigned to Utah three times.
Stern told Andersen "that our relationship with the [parent clubs] is exactly what they hope to see with all the D-League teams." The Jazz, in particular, "have treated us like part of their organization," Andersen said.
Going into the season, Fredman thought establishing a close tie with the Jazz was vital to the Flash's long-term success.
"Working with the Jazz has gone almost exactly as I thought it might," Fredman said. "They've helped us and, hopefully, we've helped them a little bit. . . . Moving forward, I think the foundation has been set. I think one more year will really solidify our franchise."
Do the players agree?
"This is my first year in the D-League, so I don't know what to compare it to," said former UNLV star Kevin Kruger. "But from what I've heard - if I ever play anywhere else in the D-League - it will be a big step down. The organization has been unbelievable to us. They have done everything possible to make this an enjoyable experience."
Today, 7 p.m.
Flash vs. Iowa