APRIL 15TH: The deal has been officially announced (Twitter link; hat tip to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com), giving the Pistons a one-to-one D-League affiliate for next season and leaving the Nets without one, for now.
MARCH 26TH: The Pistons won’t have to share a D-League team next season, as they’ll have a one-to-one affiliation in 2014/15 with the Springfield Armor, who are moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan, as MLive’s David Mayo reports. The Armor are in the final season of their contract as the direct affiliate of the Nets. It’s unclear what sort of D-League affiliate the Nets will have next year.
Michigan-based ownership will take over the Armor, though the Pistons themselves won’t own the club. Instead, the arrangement will be a hybrid partnership in which independent owners run the business side of the organization while the Pistons run the basketball operations and pay the salaries of the coaches and players.
Detroit is currently affiliated with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, a D-League team it shares with five other NBA clubs. The Pistons have made just four D-League assignments this season, sending rookies Peyton Siva and Tony Mitchell to Fort Wayne two times each. The plan for a one-to-one affiliation in close geographic proximity to Detroit indicates that the Pistons intend to make significantly more frequent assignments next season.
Mayo suggests that all NBA teams want to have one-to-one affiliations with a D-League teams within the next three years. However, the Blazers recently ended their arrangement with the Idaho Stampede and will share a D-League affiliate next season, believing that player development is best performed at the NBA level. Still, a growing number of NBA teams have been aligning directly with D-League teams in the past few years, and this year only three of the 17 teams in the D-League are without one-to-one NBA partners.