The D-League just announced its 2011-12 NBA affiliates. As you also may well know, the Cleveland Cavaliers have purchased the New Mexico Thunderbirds and are relocating them to Canton, OH. It's a smart move on Gilbert's part. The Pistons could stand to benefit greatly by following suit in this situation. As long as Gores is making it rain millions I think the Mad Ants could use a new home.
As it stands right now, it's believed that D-League will continue operations in the event of an NBA lockout lasting into the season. This could provide teams with an opportunity to bring their rookies up to speed and take the place of training camp if the lockout lasts in to the season (Ridiculous Upside explains more here). Since the rookies haven't actually signed a contract and there's no summer league for Pistons fans to evaluate our newer talent, at the very least they would be able to play for their affiliates. There are, however, far more intriguing possibilities.
Recent news bits and tweets have shown us that some players are interested in going to play overseas. This shows us that players under contract to NBA teams aren't completely prohibited from basketball and may even set a precedent for current NBA players signing up for the D-League instead of taking their talents overseas. Now the Kobes of the world will definitely be going to China, but some lesser names and homebodies may be more inclined to stay stateside. If the rookies are willing to play in the D-League it might entice potential free agents (ohhh sayyy, Rodney Stuckey, etc.) to show teams how well they stack up to players under contract and collect a paycheck.
Gilbert made a smart business decision hedging his bets and I think we can all agree that if the NBA isn't on we are going to watch some form of basketball (I hear the Crack Baby Basketball Association has some AMAZING talent). If he can snag a few moderately recognizable names to sign on this could be a pretty smart business move in addition to the benefits the Cavaliers receive. I think that Gores would do himself a favor by looking in to what Gilbert just did more closely. With the sorry state the Pistons are in, we could use an entire second roster.
One thing is clear: this lockout is good news for the D-League. I think that Gilbert made a smart business decision. I think that the rookies and veterans alike would do themselves a favor by signing up with a D-League team during the lockout. Most importantly, I think that wholly owning a D-League affiliate gives your team an edge, especially given the current situation.
So, where would you put our affiliate and what would you name it?