Chris Cochrane has an excellent interview with Andre Levingston in today’s Herald. Levingston continues to impress me with his honesty and professionalism and the interview is a must-read.
Levingston confirms that the team with stay in the ABA this season, in part because of loyalty. I assume he means loyalty to the other teams not the league office. Levingston also admits that the league itself is hurting the Rainmen and is generally very honest all around. He says that the team will be back next year, though he does not say what league it will be in. Cochrane thinks that there are three possibilities for next year:
The three future options, at this point, appear clear. One is to stay in the ABA, a choice that really doesn’t look like a smart one at this point, since the dysfunctional league shows little sign of reaching its potential. A second is to join an existing league such as the PBL, should the PBL prove to be a more professional and stable operation than the ABA. And a third would be forming a new league with fellow solid ABA Northeast Division clubs at the core.
One thing that has thrown a monkey wrench in the “North East should form a league” idea is the disaster of a last few months of Manchester’s season. They seem to be thinking D-League or bust so I don’t know if they’d want to join a regional minor league and with their on and off the court chaos who knows what’s going on with them.
Staying in the ABA is not an option. Period.
The PBL might be the best route if the other NE teams are willing to jump ship as a group but I still want to see a bit more of the PBL before I make a call. I also think that the PBL season is far too short (early January to mid-March). Cochrane seems to be pitching this PBL idea pretty hard, and its a fairly new rumour, so I think that someone in the organization must have leaked this to him.
It’s no secret that I’ve been a big proponent of joining the D-League, and I think for Halifax it’s a reasonable move. Canadian basketball types have been pushing hard for a team that could help develop Canadian talent, and the Raptors want their own team to institute their own system for prospects (i.e. euroball). Add to that Halifax’s big, modern arena and Levingston’s connections with Toronto and the Raptors and we could do it… except for one problem: no regional opponents. Most of the league is in the midwest and south east. Vermont are a great franchise, but they’re all about being a local product in small gyms with cheap tickets and a local feel – they don’t have the money to float a D-League team. Manchester still have dreams so we’ll see about that. Quebec and Montreal don’t seem to be able to put together D-League ownership groups. It will be interesting to see what happens when the season winds down.