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D-Fenders, Lakers' minor league affiliate, will take one-year hiatus

Jerry Buss will remain the owner of the NBA Development League team, which is to relocate from Staples Center when it returns.

May 21, 2010|By Mike Bresnahan

The Lakers' minor league affiliate, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, will take a one-year hiatus and will no longer use Staples Center as its home base, The Times has learned.

Lakers owner Jerry Buss will retain ownership of the D-Fenders, who are expected to reemerge at a different Southern California venue for the 2011-12 season.

Buss bought the team in July 2006 to try to create a legitimate feeder team for the Lakers, but the D-Fenders generated no revenue from ticket sales because the only people allowed to attend their home games were those who bought tickets to Lakers home games.

D-Fenders games at Staples Center typically started four hours before a Lakers game, often in front of crowds of fewer than 100 people, though Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak often was among the spectators.

"When we got into the D-League, we took full advantage of the basketball opportunities," said D-Fenders Chief Executive Joey Buss, one of Jerry Buss' sons. "We want to take time to look at how we can maximize the investment on the business side as well. The goal is to bring them back for the 2011-12 season."

The Lakers made occasional use of the D-Fenders after they began playing in November 2006, though nothing close to the relationship between a major league baseball team and its triple-A affiliate.

The Lakers did not have any players spend time on the D-Fenders' roster this season, though in past years, Jordan Farmar, Coby Karl and Sun Yue had brief stints with the team after being sent down by the Lakers.

It is unclear which Development League team the Lakers will use next season, though they probably will share a club with two or three other NBA teams.

The D-Fenders were last in the West Conference last season, finishing with the second-worst record (16-34) among the 16 Development League teams.

"We will support them over the next year … and look forward to having them back in 2011-12," Development League President Dan Reed said.

Salaries for D-League players range from $12,000 to $24,000, with the NBA paying a portion of the salaries.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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