SBD/March 27, 2014/Franchises

Pistons To Get Affiliation With NBA D-League Team Being Moved To Grand Rapids

The Pistons are getting an NBA D-League franchise in Grand Rapids, Mich., as an "agreement has been reached for undisclosed local owners to purchase the Springfield (Mass.) Armor and relocate the team" for the '14-15 season, according to sources cited by David Mayo of MLIVE.com. Sources said that the new franchise "has an undisclosed multi-year affiliation agreement with the Pistons in place and the sale has met league approval." The team will "play home games at The DeltaPlex Arena in Walker, a northern Grand Rapids suburb." Sources said that the franchise "will be locally owned and the Pistons will establish a single-franchise affiliation with it." Currently, the Pistons are "one of six NBA teams sharing the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Mad Ants." The Armor are "in the third year" of an affiliation with the Nets, "which expires May 1" (MLIVE.com, 3/26). In Detroit, Ellis & Farrell noted there was "no immediate word about what the Grand Rapids team's nickname will be." An announcement "is expected April 15" (FREEP.com, 3/26). Also in Detroit, Vincent Goodwill notes it is "expected other NBA teams will follow suit and have their own minor-league teams, as opposed to sharing them, before the end" of the current CBA in '16-17 (DETROIT NEWS, 3/27).

NBA D-LEAGUE TEAMS
TEAM OWNERSHIP MODEL AFFILIATION(S)
Austin Toros Team owned Spurs
Bakersfield Jam Independent Hawks, Clippers, Suns, Raptors, Jazz
Canton Charge Team owned Cavaliers
Delaware 87ers Team owned 76ers
Erie Bayhawks Single affiliate TBD
Fort Wayne Mad Ants Independent Bobcats, Pacers, Bucks, Grizzlies, Magic
Grand Rapids (Mich.) team (TBD) Single affiliate Pistons
Idaho Stampede Single affiliate Trail Blazers
Iowa Energy Independent Bulls, Pelicans, Nuggets, Wizards, T'Wolves
L.A. D-Fenders Team owned Lakers
Maine Red Claws Single affiliate Celtics
Reno Bighorns Independent Kings
Rio Grande Valley Vipers Single affiliate Rockets
Santa Cruz Warriors Team owned Warriors
Sioux Falls Skyforce Team owned Heat
Springfield Armor Single affiliate Nets
Texas Legends Single affiliate Mavericks
Tulsa 66ers Team owned Thunder
Westchester County (N.Y.) team (TBD) Team owned Knicks
     

DOOMED FROM THE START? In Massachusetts, Rich Chimelis notes from the time the D-League came to Springfield in '09, making it popular with the masses was "a hopeless battle with an inevitable outcome." The Armor "could never get the city's sports fans to care about who was on its team or how it was doing." The franchise in an effort to draw fans "first tried to corner the market on recognizable faces." Their first coach was former NBAer Dee Brown, but "nobody pays money to watch coaches." At one point in their first season, the Armor's 10-man roster included three former UMass players. It was "a case of a decent product being brought to a market that was not interested in that product" (MASSLIVE.com, 3/26). The Armor moved to Springfield ahead of the '09-10 season after playing as the Anaheim Arsenal from '06-09 (THE DAILY).
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