NEW YORK – The NBA G League, Denver Nuggets and Grand Rapids Drive today announced that the teams have entered into a single affiliation “hybrid” partnership beginning with the 2021-22 season.
As hybrid affiliates, the Nuggets will control the Drive’s basketball operations and existing local ownership in Grand Rapids, Mich., led by Steve Jbara and a team of investors, will oversee the franchise’s business operations and community engagement. Grand Rapids, which will announce a new name and identity in the coming weeks, was previously the hybrid affiliate of the Detroit Pistons.
“The NBA G League continues to be an essential destination for player development, and I’m so pleased to welcome the Kroenke family and the Denver Nuggets to the league,” said NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim. “Steve Jbara and his team in Grand Rapids run an outstanding organization and I’m excited for this partnership to take both teams to new heights.”
“We are extremely excited about this partnership and look forward to what the future holds for our franchises,” said Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly. “We know that Grand Rapids is an excellent organization and the collaboration we can have with our own G League team is something that will be hugely beneficial to our players, staff and organization. It’s just a great situation for all parties involved.”
The Nuggets have frequently used the NBA G League for player development over the last four seasons, assigning seven players and transferring seven two-way players through the flexible assignment and transfer processes. Additionally, Denver assistant coaches John Beckett and Jordi Fernandez boast NBA G League coaching experience with the Delaware Blue Coats and Canton Charge, respectively. Since the start of the 2014-15 season, 10 Grand Rapids players have earned Gatorade Call-Ups to the NBA. Former Drive head coach Rex Walters is currently an assistant coach with the New Orleans Pelicans.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce our partnership with Denver and am excited to welcome the Nuggets to Michigan and the Grand Rapids family,” said Jbara. “This partnership is a true testament to the Nuggets’ commitment to development and we’re so happy to be able to help the team continue those initiatives in Grand Rapids for years to come.”