After breaking with Detroit Pistons, Grand Rapids Drive enter partnership with Denver Nuggets

Detroit Free Press

After parting ways with the Detroit Pistons, the Grand Rapids Drive has struck a partnership with a new NBA team.

The Drive entered a single affiliation “hybrid” partnership with the Denver Nuggets that will begin in 2021-22, the G League announced Tuesday. The Drive will receive a new name and new branding, which will be announced in the coming weeks.

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“I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce our partnership with Denver and am excited to welcome the Nuggets to Michigan and the Grand Rapids family,” Drive president and founder Steve Jbara said in a released statement “This partnership is a true testament to the Nuggets’ commitment to development and we’re so happy to be able to help the team continue those initiatives in Grand Rapids for years to come.”

The Nuggets previously didn’t have a G League team and took advantage of the league’s flexible assignment system to assign its players to other G League teams. By partnering with the Drive, the Nuggets will now have full control of basketball operations and greater control of how its players are used in the G League.

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The Drive previously had a similar hybrid affiliation with the Pistons that ended in January, when they opted out of the G League bubble. The Motor City Cruise, the Pistons’ new G League affiliate, will play its inaugural season this fall. The Pistons wanted a team closer to its home arena and practice facility in Midtown, and the Cruise will play on Wayne State’s campus.

The close proximity will aid their player development, Dwane Casey said. The Toronto Raptors play near their G League team, Raptors 905, and Casey saw up close how good it can be for young players.

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“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 said 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.”

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.

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