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Saturday, February 29, 2020

Detroit Pistons may change G-League affiliates in move to Detroit

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Grand Rapids Drive

As we reported yesterday, the Detroit Pistons G-League team will begin play in Detroit once Wayne State completes work on their new basketball facility. Whether or not that team will be the Grand Rapids Drive is in question.

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The Drive has two years left on their affiliation with the Pistons organization. If they decide not to move from Grand Rapids, it seems likely that the Pistons would not renew the deal and they would seek or create a new G-League team who is willing to move.

For their part, the Drive certainly appear as if they will attempt to find a deal with another NBA franchise.

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Independence

Going the independent route is an option, but not necessarily a wise one. They would still have access to the G-League draft and two-way players, but without an affiliation, it would be hard to attract players. One would assume that attendance would suffer as well since a significant appeal of these minor league teams is the possibility of seeing someone who could play for the NBA franchise in the future.

Drive president and founder, Steve Jbara, addressed the media on the possibility of moving.

Ownership

There are a variety of ownership models in the G-League. Most NBA teams directly own their minor league counterpart. There are a few which have a single team affiliation. This is the case with the Drive. They are independently owned, and the Pistons run basketball operations and fund the team.

According to Jbara’s statement, it seems as if the Pistons would like to directly own their team, which might be a further wrinkle in this mess.

If the Drive want to find a new NBA team, they could find a partner in either the Denver Nuggets or the Portland Trailblazers. Neither of those teams currently have a G-League affiliate.

It’s likely that this situation won’t get resolved for a little while as their deal is still in place. We will have to wait to see if the Drive relents and agree to move to Detroit or if the Pistons decide to go in another direction.

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