If the Halifax Rainmen get into the NBA Development League, it’s unlikely it will happen in time for the 2008-09 season.

D-League president Dan Reed visited Halifax yesterday to assess the Rainmen as a potential expansion franchise, and addressed media briefly at Province House in the afternoon.

“We are looking expansion-wise for the 2009-10 season at this point,” Reed said. “We’re pretty comfortable with the 16 teams we have currently (for 2008-09). We’ve doubled in the last three years so we don’t want to expand too aggressively.”

Reed said it would be “very difficult” to get a deal done by the fall, which is what the Rainmen would prefer.

The Rainmen, who dropped out of the American Basketball Association in March after just one season, submitted a proposal last week to Reed to join the D-League.

Rainmen owner Andre Levingston, who took Reed on a tour of the city, said he doesn’t “want to go dark for a year.”

“We’re talking through some things and seeing what we can put together to satisfy our city and fans,” he said.

After a few hours in town, Reed said he had “as good of a feeling as you can get” for a city upon first impressions.

His biggest concern about putting a team in Halifax is geographic location. The NBADL is located primarily in the western U.S., and Halifax is an average distance of 4,386 kilometres from the league’s 16 cities. The closest team is an expansion franchise in Erie, Pa., almost 2,000 kilometres away.

“Our feeling in expanding to the northeast is that we’d need to have enough teams that are close to each other geographically,” Reed explained. “The bus ride is the rule of thumb we use so that the travel costs remain reasonable.”

Erie, he was quick to point out, “is more than a bus ride away.”

Working in Halifax’s favour is the fact it could provide a more nearby minor-league alternative for NBA teams such as the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks.

Reed also said the amount of interest from cities wanting to join the D-League is at an “all-time high.” Portland, Me., and Harlem, N.Y., are among those believed to be in the mix, which would help ease concerns about Halifax’s location.

“We’re trying to find the right markets with the right arenas and the right owners to continue to grow what has already been a very successful league so far,” Reed said.

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