3:13pm: The Grizzlies have formally announced the partnership.
12:52pm: It appears the Grizzlies won’t have to share a D-League affiliate with another NBA team next season, as they’ve struck a deal with the Iowa Energy on a one-to-one partnership, reports Bryce Miller of the Des Moines Register (hat tip to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities). It’ll be a hybrid relationship, meaning the Grizzlies will control the basketball operations while local ownership holds sway over the business side, though Grizzlies minority owner Jed Kaplan takes over the primary ownership role for the Energy as part of the deal.
The Grizzlies have hired Energy GM Chris Makris as director of minor league operations, though he’ll continue to oversee the Energy’s moves, according to Miller. Other Memphis owners will also hold stakes in the Iowa franchise, Miller adds. The Energy has a press conference scheduled later today to formally announce the deal.
Memphis was one of six teams sharing the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this past season, sending Jamaal Franklin on assignment there three times. They’ll probably make greater use of D-League assignments with Iowa, which saw only brief visits from Shabazz Muhammad, Glen Rice Jr. and Marquis Teague this season as the Energy’s five NBA partners largely shied away from sending players down.
The move likely leaves the Mad Ants as the only D-League club without a one-to-one partnership, assuming the Jazz partner with the Idaho Stampede as rumored. The Nets, Hawks, Clippers, Raptors, Bobcats, Pacers, Bucks, Bulls, Nuggets, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Wizards and Trail Blazers are all in line to share a D-League affiliate next season, though it would seem as though an arrangement involving that many teams would be untenable. I wouldn’t be surprised if the D-League, which is adding a Knicks-owned 18th team next season, expands further, though that’s just my speculation.
Other NBA teams may still strike one-to-one partnerships before the shuffling comes to an end, and the Wolves are on the lookout, according to Wolfson (Twitter link). They had talks about a one-to-one deal with Iowa, but they never got serious, Wolfson notes.