Grand Rapids Drive opts out of G League season, ending affiliation with Pistons

The Pistons’ minor-league affiliate will be in Detroit next year, while the Drive…

Grand Rapids Drive opts out of G League season, ending affiliation with Pistons
Grand Rapids Drive opts out of G League season, ending affiliation with Pistons 1

Rod Beard
| The Detroit News

The G League basketball season will go on, but the Grand Rapids Drive will not be cruising along with it.

The Drive announced Friday it will opt out of the 2020-21 G League season, which will be held in a secure bubble environment in Florida, mimicking what the NBA did to complete its regular season and playoffs last summer and fall during the pandemic.

With the announcement, the Drive ends its connection with the Detroit Pistons, as they reached the end of their affiliate agreement. The Pistons purchased the Phoenix Suns’ affiliate last year and renamed it the Motor City Cruise.

The Cruise will relocate to Detroit and play in a new arena on the campus of Wayne State University beginning with the 2021-22 season.

More: Pistons mailbag: Trading Derrick Rose, finding time for Deividas Sirvydis

The Drive plans to pursue a new affiliation, which could be announced later this year. They could retain the rights to the “Drive” name, but with a new affiliation, they could choose to rename the franchise as well.

“This was the right decision for our team, as we discussed both the safety and logistics surrounding a shortened, single-site season in Orlando,” Steve Jbara, president and co-owner of the Drive, said in a team statement. “Our focus turns now to the 2021-22 season, including an exciting new affiliate that will allow us to further elevate the professional basketball experience in West Michigan for our partners, players and fans.”

Along with the Drive, 11 other G League teams opted out of the bubble.

It’s a disappointing end to the connection with the Pistons but having a team in Detroit provided more benefits to their development and training. Staying in Grand Rapids was a priority for Jbara and co-owner Ben Wallace, a Pistons icon.

“Our team remains committed to Grand Rapids,” Wallace said in the team statement. “A new affiliate announcement may mean a new team name and logo, but this is home and we’re looking forward to sharing more details about our future soon as decisions are finalized with both our new affiliate and the NBA.”

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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