On Wednesday, the NBA D-League revealed that the Indiana Pacers will take over, own, and operate the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in an exclusive one-to-one affiliation.
"We are proud to extend the Pacers' brand into Northeast Indiana and excited about continuing the tradition of professional basketball in Fort Wayne," said Pacers Sports & Entertainment owner Herb Simon. "We will work closely with the Mad Ants' staff to provide support and expertise on both the business and basketball sides, and we hope to build on their enthusiastic fan base."
"Indiana's purchase of the Mad Ants signals an important milestone for the NBA D-League, as all 19 of the league's teams are now owned by, or in hybrid partnerships with, their NBA parent clubs," said Malcolm Turner, NBA D-League President. "I'm excited to welcome Herb Simon and the Pacers' front office into the NBA D-League family. I also extend my thanks to outgoing Mad Ants owners John Zeglis and Jeff Potter, whose commitment to excellence on and off the court helped shape the NBA D-League."
You'll struggle to find someone as passionate, invested, interested, and accommodating when it comes to Potter and his relationship and subsequent pride around the Mad Ants, their supporters, and the surrounding community. He'll continue to stay on board as President of Business Operations.
"Owning the Mad Ants will be integral to developing our young talent," said Pacers Basketball President Larry Bird. "We'll have the ability to institute the same offensive and defensive systems as the Pacers run and create a winning basketball culture across the state of Indiana. We are excited to build on the team's success in Fort Wayne while using it as a training ground for players, coaches and front-office personnel."
As for how this new acquisition/partnership will affect those teams currently not in a one-to-one affiliation, the D-League added this note in its presser:
With the acquisition, the NBA D-League's flexible assignment system - which was instituted prior to the 2014-15 season - will continue to enable the 11 independent NBA teams to assign players to the NBA D-League for development or rehabilitation from injury. Upon receipt of an assignment from an independent NBA team, the NBA D-League will identify any NBA D-League team willing to accept the assigned player. The assigning independent NBA team will then choose the destination for assignment between those teams. If no NBA D-League team is willing to accept the assigned player, he will be assigned to one of the hybrid affiliate teams pursuant to a lottery. The 19 NBA teams with single affiliations will be able to assign players to their NBA D-League partners.
Brian Levy, the longtime Bakersfield Jam executive, will assume General Manager duties for the Pacers' new D-League affiliate. Much like Potter, Levy is amongst the cream of the crop when it comes to passionate minor league individuals. What's more, with an already great track record, he's one of the most promising up and coming basketball minds in the business with a great eye for talent and an immense dedication to his craft.
Things are looking up in Fort Wayne.