Sioux Falls may be 1,826 miles from Miami, but that didn’t stop the Heat from strengthening the partnership with their Developmental League affiliate.
“Miami could have bought an expansion team, put it somewhere close to them had their team there and we would have had to find a new partner,” Skyforce owner and president Mike Heineman said Tuesday a news conference to talk about their expanded relationship.
“As you see teams are moving an hour away from their NBA affiliate and to have the Heat trust us enough to be 1,826 miles away from us, it’s a bold move, it’s unprecedented and we’re really proud to be a part of that.”
The Heat announced last week they have purchased a controlling interest in the Skyforce. Heat assistant GM Adam Simon will remain in full control of basketball operations as the Skyforce GM and Heineman will continue to run the team’s off-the-court business operations.
“We showed them enough results to prove that we are a good fit for them and we couldn’t be more excited that they took that risk on us.” Heineman said.
The Heat have been affiliated with Sioux Falls the past eight seasons, including the last four as a single-team affiliate. The Skyforce won the D-League title in 2016.
Heineman credited Heat GM Andy Elisburg for the partnership.
“He really is the reason why the Heat are doing this with us,” Heineman said. “He took a flyer on us four years go and we always were trying to make sure we were doing everything right. … Going towards the future I think you’re just going to see more and more connectivity between the two of us.”
Elisburg attended the news conference and confirmed that, “yes it’s 1,826 miles, yesterday I flew all 1,826 of those miles.
“Sometimes things are good, sometimes things are not good but you find a way to make things special,” Elisburg added. “It’s incredible. We’re very proud to be partners with the Skyforce.”
Miami had five players on its roster last season that played for the Skyforce: Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Josh Richardson and Okaro White.
The relationship between the NBA team and its D-League affiliates will be more important starting next year. A new rule was added under the new collective-bargaining agreement allowing the use of two-way contracts in which teams will maintain the rights to two players on their D-League teams in addition to the NBA’s standard 15-player roster limit.
NBA teams will pay those players who move between their parent teams and D-League teams depending on where they’re playing.
The D-League will be renamed the NBA Gatorade League starting next season.