Over at FanHouse, Matt Moore has a great breakdown of how the Rockets franchise has used its NBA D-League partner, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, to great success.
Before this season began, the D-League unveiled a new option for NBA teams who don't own a team (Oklahoma City, the Lakers, and San Antonio own their affiliates) to use when dealing with the D-League. [...] The new hybrid system allows a team to manage, staff and control the basketball operations of the team, while the local office maintains control of the business operations. The Rockets were the only team to try this new system out, and to say it has been a success would be a drastic understatement.
The Rockets installed Chris Finch as their head coach and have migrated basketball operations roles for the Vipers to their current front office personnel as dual roles. Instead of setting up a lower-level office in McAllen (where the Vipers offices are), they've integrated management of the D-League team into the NBA operations. [...]
You will notice a lot of short assignments for players to affiliates without ownership or a hybrid relationship with the NBA team. When talking to NBA team officials, there's a concern over the lack of control they have over the systems, principles and conditions. Instead, players that need real gametime experience and concentrated development rot on benches and hope for some practice or (gasp) a few precious minutes of garbage time. [...]
With the Rockets, it's all part of the same system. The hybrid system is the future of the D-League. It's a low-cost investment that creates as close to a true minor league system as you can get, and without the added expenses of marketing, game operations, sales, and other staffing.
Basically, the Rockets have a true farm team, or as close as the NBA allows. The Rockets' front office manages the Vipers, which ensures that the players Houston sends down (Aaron Brooks in the past, Joey Dorsey last season and early this season, among others) get the type of development the team wants. This isn't sending Donte Greene to Reno with Pete Carril for a weekend -- this is sending a rookie or second-year player over to the D-League for a month or so and knowing he'll be in a stable situation with targeted development. It's brilliant.
The Kings, with all these young players, with a D-League affiliate three hours away, need to be heading down this path.
Be sure to read Matt's entire piece -- it will open your mind and heart.