New Jersey Nets, Springfield Armor to Enter Single-Affiliate Partnership
The Nets will follow the same arrangement as the Houston Rockets and Rio Grande Valley Vipers, making them the second team to opt for the D-League's "hybrid affiliation" in which local ownership maintains control over business, marketing, and day-to-day operations in Springfield.
The hybrid model has been very well received by GMs and owners, and considering the massive success the Rockets have had with the model, both in winning D-League games and developing NBA-caliber talent (many of whom received the call from the Rockets for stints last season), it's no surprise that the Nets elected for this version of ownership.
"The New Jersey Nets' decision to enter into a single affiliation partnership with the Springfield Armor is yet another example of NBA teams understanding how integral the NBA D-League can be to their success, and an important step in our continued evolution as a true minor league for the NBA," said NBA D-League President Dan Reed in a statement released by the league. "With twenty percent of NBA players having used the NBA D-League as a springboard, it's no surprise that the Nets join a growing number of NBA teams that have acquired the benefits of a one-to-one relationship with their NBA D-League affiliate."
The Nets have a young team, and after missing out on the big free agents this summer -- and failing to complete a trade for Carmelo Anthony -- they're now in a place to build slowly through the draft. Having full control of the Armor's coaching staff will help in allowing the team to invest in project-type players with second-round picks. And with a new CBA being negotiated (eventually), there are good odds that teams will be able to use their affiliates even further. Investing in a low-cost team now -- reports indicate the Nets paid only $250,000 to assume control of basketball operations -- that's nearby puts the Nets in a position to have a fully functional development system before costs rise.
The Armor are excited about this as well.
"The Springfield Armor organization is thrilled to be entering into this single affiliation partnership with the New Jersey Nets," said Armor Managing Partner Michael Savit in the league's statement. "This is the wave of the future in the NBA D-League, and we're pleased to be getting in on the ground floor as a partner with one of the NBA's most exciting teams. It reflects very positively on the NBA D-League, our organization and the City of Springfield."
It'll be interesting to see if other Eastern Conference teams elect to enter into single-affiliate arrangements. The Celtics have a close relationship with the Maine Red Claws but haven't made the association formal. A similar situation exists with the Cavaliers and the Erie BayHawks. With both of those NBA teams past or approaching the time to rebuild, those assets will become more valuable.
In the meantime, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov promised a new way of doing things, and so far he's living up to that. This is just one more step toward making his team competitive over the long term.