The NBA D-League announced on Monday that the Sioux Falls Skyorce have entered into a single affiliation with the NBA championship contending Miami Heat.
The fact that such a partnership was announced at a time like this may be surprising, but the fact that the Heat were interested in making it happen is not.
Forming a single affiliation with D-League teams is quickly becoming an ongoing trend for NBA teams, as it undoubtedly aids the organization in longterm development, scouting, and helping players already on the NBA roster gain some extra experience. This past season, Miami assigned the likes of Dexter Pittman and Jarvis Varnado to play for Sioux Falls during different points in the year.
Though such a partnership is a smart move for both sides, it also, nevertheless, still goes against the tides with regard to another common trend.
Being affiliated with a D-League squad close in geography and proximity to the NBA team's home base is often a plus because players are able to be so quickly and efficiently sent back and forth. It proved convenient enough for many NBA teams to usher their young guns back and forth on a nightly basis this past season.
The Heat may not exactly have that same luxury with regard to sending its players to Sioux Falls next season. Still, the opportunity is a good one, and stands to pay dividends for Miami sooner rather than later. It's an excellent move.
Partnering with an organization that's currently competing for their second straight NBA title is never a bad idea, but did Skyforce officials actually have a choice between a couple of NBA teams?
Sioux Falls has been actively seeking out a potential single affiliation for quite some time now. Though some say this was an effort that began in part over three years ago, team officials really began to ramp things up last fall.
And as the NBA and D-League regular seasons came to a close, Skyforce officials were set to hold discussions with up to three NBA teams regarding the idea.
Sioux Falls wanted to get a deal done sooner than later, and given the Heat's distance from the team (in addition to the Skyforce having absolutely no desire to move), it could be suggested that perhaps the D-League organization had no other option.
But that doesn't appear to be the case. This article from a more local publication actually goes on to suggest that the minor league squad's officials chose to move on from discussions with the Timberwolves, in favor of Miami.
The Timberwolves would have been a sensible partner, not only given their close proximity to Sioux Falls, but also because of new President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders' background with the team (he once served as Skyforce head coach) as well as the fact that Minnesota is also a much younger team than the Heat, and thus, could be a more active utilizer of the D-League in general.
Nevertheless, the deal is now done and the Skyforce have an NBA championship contender on their side. That's not a bad outcome at all.