LOS ANGELES - The Lakers don't have any little-used rookies this year, so the positives of owning their own D-League team, with home games taking place in their own arena, haven't kicked in yet. But "we anticipate it becoming a definite advantage in years ahead," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday.
The Jazz apparently want to investigate that convenience for themselves. Utah management is expected to announce this weekend that the Jazz are bringing an NBA Developmental League team to Orem, sources with knowledge of the plans said Thursday.
The Jazz have been in negotiations to rent the McKay Center at Utah Valley State University for home games, the sources confirmed. A public announcement, with D-League president Phil Evans and Jazz president Dennis Haslam in attendance, is planned for Saturday morning. Neither returned calls seeking comment Thursday.
Under NBA rules, each team can send a maximum of two players at a time - rookies and second-year players only - to a D-League affiliate. The Jazz used that option to send C.J. Miles to Albuquerque for three weeks last season, and switched their affiliation to the Boise-based Idaho Stampede this season to increase convenience.
But having a team playing in your own backyard is even more useful, Kupchak acknowledged. Players could shuttle back and forth between the NBA team and the D-League affiliate on a daily basis, practicing with the NBA team and then getting valuable playing time with the minor leaguers. The Jazz could use that option to find more work for rookies Dee Brown or Roger Powell.
The Lakers would have liked that option last season, when center Andrew Bynum - now frequently in the Lakers' starting lineup - was a rookie. The Lakers bought an expansion team, the D-Fenders, last summer for that purpose. "More importantly, we have coaches running the triangle offense," Kupchak said. "Last year, we sent guys to our affiliate in Fort Worth, and they didn't get the playing time they should have. It wasn't as productive as we hoped it would be. Now if we send a guy down, we can tell the coach to play him 40 minutes a game and run our offense. So I think every team should consider it, because it could become a useful teaching tool."
Currently the league has 12 teams, but tentative plans are to expand to 15 to 16 teams next year, including the Orem team.
The league drew an average of 6,000 fans in its season openers and attendance is expected to hover around 4,500 to 5,000 fans this season.
Tony Parker scored only 14 points - five below his average - in the Jazz's 83-75 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday. But maybe he had other things on his mind.
The Spurs guard flew from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles after the game, arriving in time to propose marriage to his girlfriend, "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria.
"Eva and Tony are officially engaged," a spokeswoman for the actress told The Associated Press. "The couple have never been happier." Parker surprised Longoria with the "romantic and perfect" proposal late Wednesday night, the AP reported. A wedding is planned after the season ends next summer in Parker's homeland of France.
Bryant butters up TNT
If it seemed like the TNT pregame and postgame crew were complimentary toward Lakers' guard Kobe Bryant on Thursday, they had good reason. Bryant sent Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley free PlayStation3 game consoles last week, according to ESPN.