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Stampede unbridled by NBA lockout

As the labor stalemate continues between the National Basketball Association and its players, officials with the Idaho Stampede say their upcoming season in the Developmental League won’t be affected by the  lockout.

Stampede general manager Steve Brandes also wants to branch out the team’s marketing beyond signs and sponsorships at the CenturyLink Arena, the team’s home court.

The Stampede season starts Nov. 25 in Boise, with or without a collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the players association.  Dozens of NBA preseason games are already canceled and teams’ training camps are postponed indefinitely. The lockout prevents the Stampede and all D-League teams from signing or talking to any players on an NBA roster last season or selected in this year’s NBA draft.

“It’s almost like the NBA doesn’t even exist to us any more,” Stampede spokesman Travis Tate said.

Tate and Brandes said they don’t expect the lockout to affect turnout in Boise. Neither does Tom Scott, a sports analyst for KTVB-TV in Boise and the owner of an advertising firm.

“This will be the only thing with the NBA’s name on it that’s playing basketball,” Scott said. “I don’t think it’ll affect attendance. It’s a local event, and it will be pro basketball.  If anything, it might help a bit.”

The team is the official minor league affiliate of three northwest NBA teams, the Utah Jazz, Portland Trailblazers and Denver Nuggets. Under the expired labor agreement, those teams could send down players to the D-League to get playing time and coaching. That could potentially change under a new plan, perhaps increasing or reducing the Stampede’s link to the NBA and the developmental nature of the D-League.

The Stampede is also looking for potential players at tryouts open to the public. The team already held tryouts in Denver and Portland and has tryouts scheduled this month in Salt Lake City and Boise. “Those are ways to see players who have slipped through the cracks,” Tate said.

About Brad Iverson-Long

Brad Iverson-Long is a reporter for the Idaho Business Review, covering banks, financial services, technology and new business.