Many were surprised last month to hear the Skyforce were partnering up exclusively with the Miami Heat. That's because the best fit based on location alone looked to be the Minnesota Timberwolves. But after all was said and done, the back to back NBA champs wanted it more. We caught up with a Heat official at Summer League in Las Vegas to talk about the new hybrid relationship.
Single affiliations are becoming the norm in the NBA Development League these days. That's why the Skyforce made the move to team up with the Miami Heat in June. With chemistry built up from the past four years, Heat Assistant General Manager Andy Elisburg is looking forward to what the future holds.
"The quality of the working relationship, the quality of the facilities in Sioux Falls and the chance to partnership with a team that's been part of the history that the Skyforce has, it made it a very enticing opportunity," Elisburg said.
Elisburg is one of a few Heat originals. He's been with the team since it's first season in 1988. When his favorite franchise was looking into joining forces with Sioux Falls, Elisburg was the one who hopped on a plane to find out what South Dakota had to offer.
"Came last year after the season was over and had an opportunity to get a tour of the Pentagon and the various areas there and it was very impressive," Elisburg said.
Now with the deal in place, Elisburg and company are ready to take over Skyforce basketball operations. The Heat sent down two players last season but with their own coaches at the helm, more assignments are ahead.
"I think we're very excited about it. I think we look at it as it being an extension of our own team. A chance to expand out and to develop players and be able to kind of put your system in. We're able to work with a first class franchise in the Skyforce and a first class ownership in the Heineman family and we're really excited about it," Elisburg said.
No announcements have been made yet on who will guide the Skyforce this next season. According to last year's coach Joel Abelson, he's out of a job and the Heat will fill the position from within their organization.