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BUTTE - The acting commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association said Thursday that he considers the Butte Daredevils defunct after a lack of communication from the team's owner.

Commissioner Jim Coyne said he hasn't heard from owner Joe Clark in months. The team's office in the Butte Civic Center was vacant Thursday, and the Montana Standard reported that one of Clark's telephones has been turned off and the message system on another was disabled.

Civic Center Manager Bill Melvin said he has operated in recent months as if the team was finished in Butte after not having much contact with Clark since the end of last season, the Daredevils' second in the city.

"We were proceeding as if they were not coming back," Melvin said. "We weren't holding any dates (for CBA games). I guess he made it official (Wednesday)."

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That's when Melvin said he saw a news release written by Clark that spelled out the end of the team.

Coyne told Butte television station KTVM that the city could become the site of the Albany Patroons, which has been considered one of the league's most solid franchises.

The 62-year-old CBA had been regarded as the top minor league for professional basketball, developing several players for the NBA. But it lost luster because of management and financial problems in the earlier part of the decade and the emergence of rival leagues such as the NBA Development League, American Basketball Association and the Intense Basketball League.

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