SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The NBA Development League team in South Dakota is aligning itself solely with the NBA's Miami Heat.
The Sioux Falls Skyforce last season was affiliated with the Heat, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Orlando Magic and the Philadelphia 76ers. The single-affiliation partnership involving the Skyforce and the defending NBA champion Heat starts with the 2013-14 D-League season.
The Heat will have full control over the Skyforce basketball operations, and Sioux Falls will change its teal-and black colors to Miami's red, yellow, and black color scheme and signature font. Local ownership will retain the primary responsibility for the team's off-the-court business operations. The deal comes as the Skyforce prepare to move into the new $18 million, 3,200-seat Sanford Health Pentagon.
"We have been working with the Skyforce for four years and feel that it is one of the most professional organizations in the NBA Development League," Heat President Pat Riley said in a statement Monday. "It will be a pleasure working with (Skyforce owner and president) Mike Heineman to make this partnership a success for both them and the Miami Heat."
Heineman said in a statement the partnership will "take our franchise to a whole new level."
The Heat, with stars LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, are currently trying to defend their NBA title against the San Antonio Spurs in this year's finals.
"The Heat is obviously a popular team right now," Heineman told KELO-TV in Sioux Falls. "You see little kids running around with Heat jerseys all the time, LeBron and D-Wade jerseys. We hope that translates into some Skyforce interest. I think it can only help our season ticket base and our fan base."
Five other NBA teams have similar exclusive agreements with D-League teams: the Brooklyn Nets (Springfield Armor), Boston Celtics (Maine Red Claws), Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers), New York Knicks (Erie BayHawks) and Portland Trail Blazers (Idaho Stampede). D-League President Dan Reed said such arrangements help with player, coach and staff development.