Armor owners sell out to Pistons group, ending Nets affiliation

David Mayo of MLive.com in Michigan reports that the owners of the Springfield Armor, the Nets D-League affiliate for the last four years, are selling out and the team will move to Grand Rapids and become the Pistons' D-League operation. The Nets have had a "hybrid" affiliation with the Nets for three years. Under that arrangement, the owners of the team run business operations while the Nets ran basketball operations.

Mayo reports...

"An agreement has been reached for undisclosed local owners to purchase the Springfield (Mass.) Armor and relocate the team to Michigan's second-largest metropolitan area for the 2014-15 season, according to NBA, NBDL and local sources."

Multiple league sources confirmed Mayo's report to NetsDaily.

The move was apparently economic. Despite playing in the birthplace of basketball and the home of the Basketball Hall of Fame, the Armor lost money as fewer and fewer fans showed up for games. It didn't help that the Armor has had two straight losing seasons. The Springfield Republican, which had a hit-and-miss strategy on Armor coverage, reported that the team's lease with the MassMutual Center recently expired.

The Nets agreement with the Armor owners was scheduled to end on May 1. Team officials have been considering a number of options, including extending their hybrid arrangement in Springfield, affiliating with another operation in a hybrid arrangement  or buying an expansion team, as the Knicks did earlier this month. That team will play in White Plains, NY. There is even some thought of not affiliating, but that's unlikely. A hybrid arrangement normally costs a team $300,000.

The fate of the Armor players' D-League rights is still being negotiated. The Nets would have more of chance to keep the rights of players like Adonis Thomas, Lorenzo Brown and Darius Johnson-Odom if they had a new affiliate lined up. Otherwise, the status of the players rights are uncertain.

The Nets said last summer that the D-League would be a big part of the Nets development strategy after they had traded away so many first and second round picks.  Now, they will have to scurry to find a D-League affiliate or spend more of Mikhail Prokhorov's money to buy one.

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