years-the influx of college freshmen and, in growing numbers, high school seniors, who prematurely abandon their educations for the NBA. With a farm system in place, the NBA and each of its major league teams would have the option to still sign the players, but develop them more slowly in the CBA before bringing them up to prime time. But such a move would have to be approved not only by the NBA, but also by the NBA players union.
While not commenting on whether the NBA was leaning toward establishing an official farm league, NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik did issue a statement congratulating Thomas on the purchase, adding, “We look forward to continuing and growing a relationship that has been in effect for the last 20 years.”
For the moment, Thomas says he’ll work on promoting and marketing the CBA, with an eye toward expansion as early as next year. “Our goal is to continue to grow the league through acquisitions and mergers. We’ve looked at some cities out west, and there’s considerable interest in smaller cities wanting to have the second-best league in the world playing in their towns.”
Hunter thinks Thomas’ involvement will have an immediate impact on the league. “With his ability and the respect he commands, he will take the CBA to an all-new high,” he says. “As a past president of the NBA Players Association, he understands the business from the players’ perspective. And as a former part-owner of the Raptors, he understands it from the owners’ side. He understands where all parties are coming from. And, so far, the current CBA owners have been very impressed with his communications to them.”