Tom Gores makes real strides with Pistons’ new D-League affiliation

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

The Pistons will run their own D-League team in Grand Rapids next season, rather than continue sharing a squad with five other NBA teams. That will cost real money. The Pistons will have to hire a coach and a basketball-operations staff, and they’ll likely spend more on scouts to find players to fill the roster.

This season, 14 teams have their own D-League affiliate: three of the NBA’s strongest championship contenders (Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma Thunder), a few threats to advance in the playoffs (Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets), prominent franchises in the league’s power structure (Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and New York Knicks) a team with an extremely promising future (Philadelphia 76ers) and the Cavaliers and Kings.

With the exception of Cleveland and Sacramento, it’s absolutely a group you want to join.

But these teams aren’t well-positioned because they have their own D-League teams. Having their own D-League team is a signal that they’re doing whatever they can to gain an edge. A team that goes out of its way to negotiate a one-to-one affiliation usually is doing many other things right.

The Pistons put themselves one step closer toward including themselves in that reality. Though they will have to back it up with other savvy moves, Gores sincerely deserves credit for paying to alter the Pistons’ prognosis for the better.

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