INSIGHT: How Raptors 905 Came To Be []


Bloggers Note: It may seem like no big deal that Canada has been rewarded a NBADL (National Basketball Association Development League) team to the rest of the NBA but to the Raptors franchise and fanbase this a blessing in disguise.

The Toronto Raptors as a franchise & basketball fans in Canada are more than excited about the fact that the Raptors have a “D-League” Affiliate. Lets face it. Basketball has come a long way in Canada within the last 30 years. Prior to Vancouver (Grizzlies) and Toronto (Raptors) being awarded NBA franchises in 1994, it was difficult to watch basketball on TV in Canada outside of NBC. Basketball fans in the “north” claimed allegiance to American based teams most notably The Chicago Bulls, L.A Lakers, Boston Celtics & New York Knicks. Toronto survived the turbulent times of early expansion. The fan base & homegrown talent has grown to such prodigious proportions that a D-League owned by MLSE (Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment) became a necessity to facilitate not only homegrown talent, but NBA talent & provide a low cost alternative for basketball fans.

Here is how it came about.

In 2008 former Raptors Executive Bryan Colangelo announced that MLSE was in the exploration phase of having a D-League team in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Some of the wrinkles that needed to be ironed out included price, location, taxes & visa issuance. indicated that Masai Ujiri stated that he would only come on as the Raptors GM if a D-League team owned by MLSE would become a reality under his stewardship. Initially Rochester and then Buffalo were targeted before pitching a team north of the 49th at a meeting with D-League management during the February all-star game in New York.

Once all the obstacles were over come the franchise became a reality for the estimated cost of $6 million dollars (USD)

Toronto 905 will be the 19th team in the D-League, and first outside of the United States.

It will give the Raptors more involvement in the development of raw but promising prospects like fan favourite Bruno Caboclo and fellow Brazilian Lucas Nogueira, and Delon Wright, who was selected 20th overall in last week’s NBA draft.

Raptors 905 becomes the 19th team in the D League and will play in the Eastern Conference. The Mississauga Power of the NBL Canada has ceased operations in light of the new franchise. The NBLC has given their blessing to the new franchise and all home games will be played in Mississauga at the Hershey Centre

Here are some tidbits about the new franchise and how it will operate:

  • The teams play a 50-game season that goes from November until April.
  • The league is in charge of salaries and there are three different “tiers” that range from $25,000 a season down to $13,000 a season depending on experience. Players are also given room and board during the season, year-long medical insurance and a per diem of about $40 for road trips. Players assigned from NBA teams make their NBA salaries.
  • A roster can be no smaller than 10 players active per game with two additional spots for injured or inactive players. Rosters can expand to 13 players if an NBA team assigns players to its D League team.
  • Any player on an NBA contract can be assigned to the team’s D League franchise. As well, up to three players an NBA team invites to training camp but waives without signing them will be assigned to that team’s D League affiliate by the league as long as their contract is not owned by another NBA team.
  • According to the Raptors, season tickets will be available by placing a deposit at and that group tickets will be available for as little at $9.05 and single game tickets for $11.
  • The D League is an experimental ground for the NBA and there are four unique ones: The league uses the FIBA rule for goaltending (balls on the rim are alive), there is a one “coach’s challenge” per game, a team can advance the ball from backcourt to frontcourt once a game without having to call a timeout and overtime is three minutes.
  • Dan Tolzman is the general manager and Jesse Mermuys is the team’s head coach/assistant general manager.

The NBA D-League is all about development. It represents a big opportunity develop NBA talent while building and maintaining a competitive roster of young up-and-coming players. The benefits of owning a D-League team will be tremendous for the players and staff of the Raptors organization for years to come. This may be Masai Urjiri’s boldest move yet.

(Excerpts from The Toronto Star &



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