The Detroit Pistons’ affiliation with the Grand Rapids Drive was expected to end after the 2020-21 season, as their new G League affiliate, the Motor City Cruise, will play their inaugural season this fall.
Detroit’s affiliation with the Drive ended sooner than initially expected. The Drive announced Friday they are one of 12 teams opting out of the 2020-21 G League season, which will be held in a bubble format near Orlando similar to the NBA last season. In doing so, the Drive are now an independent team and are pursuing a new affiliate.
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“This was the right decision for our team, as we discussed both the safety and logistics surrounding a shortened, single-site season in Orlando,” Drive president and co-owner Steve Jbara said in a release. “Our focus turns now to the 2021-22 season, including an exciting new affiliate that will allow us to further elevate the professional basketball experience in West Michigan for our partners, players and fans.”
The Pistons are looking forward to the Motor City Cruise, which Pistons owner Tom Gores purchased from the Phoenix Suns last summer and subsequently renamed. The Cruise will play at a new arena currently being constructed on Wayne State’s campus, not far from the Little Caesars Arena and Henry Ford Pistons Performance Center.
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The close proximity will allow for a greater level of synergy between the Pistons and their G League affiliate, and the organization anticipates it’ll have a positive impact on the development of their young players.
“I can say it’s the single-most instrumental tool that the Raptors had in building their players, building their infrastructure as far as players, front office staff,” Casey told reporters in October. “It was a training center for the players. It really allowed that team, and those players, to have a venue where they could practice with the varsity team in the morning and come back and go back and play with the G League team in the afternoon. This is going to be a huge teaching tool, laboratory for us, right here in close proximity of our practice facility.”
The Drive will remain in Grand Rapids, but a new affiliation could bring a new name and new branding. It will extend their commitment to the Western Michigan area, where they have played since 2014.
“Our team remains committed to Grand Rapids,” noted Ben Wallace, co-owner of the Grand Rapids Drive. “A new affiliate announcement may mean a new team name and logo, but this is home and we’re looking forward to sharing more details about our future soon as decisions are finalized with both our new affiliate and the NBA.”
In the meantime, the Pistons will be without a G League team this season. But the NBA announced Friday that the Pistons, along with the other 11 teams without an affiliate, will be allowed to assign roster players and transfer Two-Way players to the G League bubble using the league’s flexible assignment and Two-Way rules.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons are no longer affiliated with Grand Rapids Drive