David Mayo reports that an agreement has been reached for the purchase of NBA D League team Springfield Armor, which will result in the franchise being moved from the hometown of the NBA Hall of Fame to Grand Rapids where it will be a single-franchise affiliation to the Pistons.
Grand Rapids is essentially becoming the training grounds for Detroit teams, as the Pistons, Tigers, and Red Wings will each have their developmental league affiliates located in the city.
The team is expected to be locally owned, and games will be played at the DeltaPlex Arena north of town, which seats 4,500.
Mayo reported earlier in the season that the Pistons were pursuing a D League franchise that they would be able to exclusively control. The Pistons currently partner with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants as their affiliate, but share affiliation with five other teams.
Single-franchise affiliation is something of a league-wide movement, inspired both by salary cap concerns and the success of the D League as a tool for player development.
It's a nice step in the right direction for a franchise that has had few of those as of late. Too often promising, likable second round draft picks have been cast off due to a roster crunch. Guys such as Kim English and Vernon Macklin who have yet to find a home for their professional basketball career, or Arron Afflalo and Amir Johnson who have gone on to be solid NBA starters.
Either way, it will be nice to have an option to keep such players in the fold with the Pistons - as well as a tool for identifying additional promising young players. The Spurs are a great example of how well a D League system can work, having allocated over 4,000 minutes this season to players with D League experience and several players on the Austin Toros current roster who could help in the future, such as Myck Kabongo, Dexter Pittman and Jonathon Simmons.