Heat Announce Exclusive Partnershp With NBA D-League Sioux Falls Skyforce
The Heat and the NBA D-League Sioux Falls Skyforce yesterday announced a "two-year hybrid agreement," meaning the Heat will "handle and pay for all basketball operations starting with the 2013-14 season," according to Terry Vandrovec of the Sioux Falls ARGUS LEADER. The Skyforce's staff will be left "intact and free to focus on sales and marketing." The ownership structure for the Skyforce "won’t change and the team won’t move." The Heat have been "loosely affiliated" with the Skyforce since '09-10. But it "wasn’t an exclusive deal -- the Timberwolves, Magic and 76ers had the same arrangement with the Force last season -- and there were no financial ties." Now it is a "true partnership, the sixth of its kind in the D-League." The Heat influence was "immediately evident, with the Force dumping their teal, black and silver colors for red, black and yellow and tweaking a couple of letters in their written name to match the Miami look." Heat Senior VP & Assistant GM Andy Elisburg "came to Sioux Falls to check out the city," the Pentagon arena and the Skyforce's operations. That led to Skyforce President Mike Heineman meeting with Elisburg, Heat President Pat Riley and CEO Nick Arison "in Miami in early April." Heineman has "consulted with other D-League teams in affiliate relationships in an attempt to avoid bumps in the transitional road" (Sioux Falls ARGUS LEADER, 6/11). The Heat become the 13th NBA team "to have a one-on-one partnership with an NBA D-League team" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 6/11).
HOCUS POCUS: In Orlando, Josh Robbins reported the move "ensures that the Magic will need a new affiliate," and team officials "probably welcome the news." The Magic "didn’t assign any of its young players to the SkyForce last season," and the "distance between Orlando and Sioux Falls and the limited number of flights into Sioux Falls made it impractical for the Magic to assign anyone there." Still, the Magic "want to make the D-League a part of their player-development strategy" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 6/10).