12:57pm: The 11 teams without D-League affiliates will use the system put in place a year go for instances in which the Mad Ants, who had been the only shared affiliate last season, had no room left on their roster, the NBA announced via press release (Twitter link via the Timberwolves). So, if one of the 11 NBA teams without affiliates wants to make an assignment, the D-League will present that team with a list of D-League clubs willing to take the assigned player, and the NBA team will have its pick. If no D-League clubs want to take the player, he’ll be assigned based on a lottery.
12:49pm: The D-League indicates via Twitter that the Pacers will indeed use the Mad Ants as their one-to-one affiliate this year.
12:37pm: The purchase is official, the Pacers announced. Indiana will run both the business and the basketball operations for the D-League club.
The Pacers also named Brian Levy the GM of the Mad Ants, the team’s statement revealed. Levy had been the assistant GM of the Suns D-League affiliate.
“Owning the Mad Ants will be an integral part to the development of our young talent and we’ll have the ability to institute the same offensive and defensive systems and create a winning basketball culture across the state of Indiana,” Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said. “We are excited to build on the team’s success in Fort Wayne while using it as a training ground for players, coaches and front office personnel.”
Still unclear is whether the Pacers will use the Mad Ants as their exclusive, one-to-one affiliate this season, and if so, what the 11 NBA teams remaining without a one-to-one affiliate will do. Johnson hears it’s likely it will involve a system in which those 11 teams will assign players to various affiliates based on a lottery.
SEPTEMBER 9TH, 8:09am: The sale will be announced in a press conference set for 12:30pm Central, sources told WPTA-TV in Fort Wayne and a source close to the Mad Ants confirmed to Reggie Hayes of the News-Sentinel (hat tip to Johnson). Indeed, the Pacers website indicates a “major announcement” regarding the Mad Ants is set for today. It’s still unclear if a one-to-one affiliation between the Pacers and Mad Ants will be in place for the coming season.
12:53pm: The sale could be delayed until the 2016/17 season to make sure everything is in order, Johnson tweets.
AUGUST 1ST, 12:12pm: The Pacers are expected to purchase the D-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants but the details are still being worked out, which has delayed an official announcement, according to Adam Johnson of the D-League Digest (Twitter links). It’s unclear how this will affect the 11 NBA teams who do not have a D-League affiliate, since the Mad Ants are the only unaffiliated team in the league, but the NBA may use a flex assignment system, Johnson adds (additional Twitter links).
A flex assignment system was already in place to accommodate assignments to the Mad Ants, as SeaDubsCentral.com explains. Under that system, the D-League tried to find other teams willing to accept a player from an unaffiliated team if Fort Wayne already had a maximum four NBA players on assignments or two assigned players at the player’s position. The independent NBA team could then choose which D-League team to send that player to. If no D-League team stepped forward to take the player, a lottery system was used to find him a landing spot.
The 11 remaining teams without an affiliate are the Wizards, Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Timberwolves, Bucks, Clippers, Nuggets, Bulls, Hornets, Hawks and Nets.
Logistically, the move makes sense for the Pacers and Mad Ants. Fort Wayne is an approximate two hour drive from Indianapolis and the Pacers can easily shuttle players back and forth. It’s also reasonable to suggest the Mad Ants would forge a tighter bond with their fans by having players on Indiana’s roster gaining experience with an in-state affiliate.