By Peter Schwartz

Despite the presence of the Yankees and Mets, minor-league baseball has carved out a niche in the Tri-State Area over the years. And now, local basketball fans will have an opportunity to see some up-and-coming NBA talent as the Westchester Knicks will debut for the 2014-15 NBA D-League season.

The expansion team will be owned and operated by Madison Square Garden and will play its home games at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. It’s an entertaining brand of basketball, but it’s also a family-affordable night of sports.

“It’s an extremely high-energy, faced-paced NBA product,” said Bill Boyce, the team’s Vice President of Sales and Business Operations. “We’re very much looking forward to bringing the family-friendly environment to Westchester.”

This past season, there were 52 unique players who were sent down from their parent NBA clubs, as well 37 call-ups from the player pool in the D-League that got called up to NBA teams. There are five current Knicks players who have D-League experience, including Toure Murry and Jeremy Tyler.

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The league has been around since 2001 and there is now a growing trend for NBA clubs to run their own teams because they can groom young players and get them ready to be called up. If a player is not ready for the NBA out of college, he can get some pro experience in the D-League.

“It’s the second-best basketball in the world and it’s going to be a treat for those of us here in Westchester,” said Boyce, who comes to the Westchester Knicks after four seasons as President of the Texas Legends, a D-League team in Frisco, Texas.

The Knicks, who will hire the head coach, assistants and trainers, will be the only team that can assign players to Westchester, but there will be those from the player pool that could be called up by any NBA team.

The general manager will be Knicks assistant GM Allan Houston.

“It’s a distinct privilege and honor for me to work with Alan,” said Boyce. “He’s been in the league several years as the general manager of the Erie Bayhawks. He’s a great person and a very talented basketball person.”

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