Nuggets expecting G League team for start of next season, sources say

After years of unsuccessful attempts, the Denver Nuggets are finally expecting to get a G League team at the start of next season, league sources told The Denver Post.

The partnership, which isn’t official and won’t be until the end of this season, will be between the Nuggets and the Grand Rapids Drive in Michigan. The Drive, whose partnership with the Pistons ends this season, have no imminent plans to move to Colorado, league sources said.

With the move, the Nuggets will become the 28th NBA franchise to secure a G League affiliate, leaving only Phoenix and Portland without developmental squads.

For years, Denver has tried to land a G League team. Proposals included Las Vegas, Seattle, Nashville, San Diego and Omaha, sources said. But there was always some impediment, from local ownership issues to building restrictions.

With the Drive, the Nuggets could utilize a hybrid model. The infrastructure, arena, local sponsorships and partnerships are already in place. After Denver’s roughly $9 million buy-in, sources said, the Nuggets would be solely responsible for the basketball side of operations.

Currently, the only other hybrid model in the league is the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, with the Houston Rockets.

But the benefits are immense.

Not only would the Nuggets avoid the headaches of starting a franchise from scratch, but they’ll benefit from having their own player development system. For a franchise that prides itself on internal improvement, the move is an essential step forward.

Last year, for example, Bol Bol played for the Windy City Bulls, Vlatko Cancar spent time with the Erie BayHawks and former Nuggets forward Jarred Vanderbilt was farmed out to the Vipers. Before becoming a vital part of the Nuggets’ rotation, backup guard Monte Morris spent most of the 2017-’18 season with the Vipers as well.

The Nuggets were at the mercy of three different coaching staffs to develop their prospects, and there was only so much say Denver’s front office had in grooming their own guys. In the future, the Nuggets can implement their own coaching staff, their own schemes and develop prospects in the same system as their parent club.

When the Pistons announced plans last summer to purchase the Northern Arizona Suns from Phoenix and move the team to Wayne State, closer to the Pistons’ headquarters, it left the Drive without a parent club for next season.

Drive president and owner Steve Jbara has signaled there could be a new affiliation in the past, even citing Denver as a potential match. Former Pistons legend Ben Wallace, also a part of the ownership group, reiterated the franchise’s commitment to Grand Rapids in January.

Source: Read Full Article