As many of you already know, the Memphis Grizzles recently acquired singe affiliation with the Iowa Energy of the NBA Developmental League. I was able to get a quick interview with Jed Kaplan, who serves as the managing Partner of the Iowa Energy to give us a quick snapshot about himself as well as what we should expect from the collaboration this season as well as for years to come.
3SOB: Explain your role with the Energy as well as your responsibilities?
Kaplan: I am the new Managing Partner of The Iowa Energy, responsible for the business side. I have a responsibility to our ownership group, the Grizzlies, fans and the Iowa Community. I see a huge opportunity for the Grizzlies to increase their fan base in Iowa. I saw on twitter a hashtag #DSMgrizznation, That made me smile !!
3SOB: What lead to you becoming a minority owner with the Grizz and now ultimately to your position with the Iowa Energy?
Kaplan: I have owned minor league teams dating back to the 1990’s, I have been a minority owner of the Erie Bayhawks for 7 years, When the opportunity came about to join the Grizzlies it was a no brainer. As soon as I got the chance to work with Jason Levien, I knew I made the right decision.
3SOB: What lead to the grizzlies creating this partnership with the Energy?
Kaplan: The Grizzlies were open to the Hybrid relationship from the day I brought it up. Having a one to one relationship with their own NBADL team, will prove very beneficial!
3SOB: How open will the lines of communication be between yourself and CEO Jason Levien as well as head coach Dave Joerger?
Kaplan: I text and email with Jason Levien on a regular basis, we have become friends and I feel we have similar goals for the respective teams. I only hope I can do as well a job in Iowa as he has done in Memphis. I know Coach Joerger from the NBADL, During the season I have seen him and spoken at games. Chris Makris, the GM in Iowa and Grizzlies Director of Minor League Operations, will be the main conduit on the basketball side.
3SOB: Do you think that having single affiliation with a D-League franchise creates a competitive advantage in the NBA and if so please explain?
Kaplan: Yes, I see the league trending to a 30 teams with each team having its own affiliate, similar to the more mature Minor League baseball system. At that point it will become a true farm system with many benefits to both clubs. At that point the players on the NBADL team will be exclusive to the parent. No other team can take them without a trade. I expect at that point to see more rehab assignment too.
3SOB: Will fans have Iowa Energy information on the Grizz website and how accessible will the games be as well as transactions, player evaluations, stats etc?
Kaplan: The outpouring of fan support for both teams has been amazing. It has been received very positively in both cities. I feel a sense of family being created between both towns. We had a hat giveaway in Iowa and half of the fans requested the Memphis hat. Fans showed up to our VIP event wearing Memphis jerseys. Imagine the level it can rise too once the season starts. I envision both teams selling each other’s merchandise. The websites will be linked and I want to bring the respective press to the other city to see what I have been raving about. All of the Iowa games can be seen online. I have been pleasantly surprised at the level of interest from the Fans of Both cities and I expect that only to continue to grow.
I would like to thank Jed Kaplan for being so gracious in taking time out to answer these questions for us here at 3 Shades Of Blue, i like many other fans are excited to see the benefits of this remarkable partnership!