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NBA teams see Ants' Meyer as their ally

All three NBA teams affiliated with the D-League Mad Ants - the Pacers, Bucks and Pistons - have nothing but praise for new Mad Ants coach Joey Meyer, shown here as head coach of the Tulsa 66ers in January 2008.
All three NBA teams affiliated with the D-League Mad Ants - the Pacers, Bucks and Pistons - have nothing but praise for new Mad Ants coach Joey Meyer, shown here as head coach of the Tulsa 66ers in January 2008.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Bucks, Pacers may send players here, as Pistons have.

Saturday, July 04, 2009 10:00 am
The Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks all praise new Mad Ants coach Joey Meyer, and the positive reviews could mean more NBA players in Fort Wayne next season.Only three players have been sent to the Mad Ants from the NBA in two seasons, a total that could be matched or surpassed in 2009-10.

Meyer has a strong relationship with the Bucks from his time as the D-League coach in Tulsa.

Dave Babcock, Bucks director of player personnel, credits Meyer's coaching with the development of Ramon Sessions, David Noel and Ersan Ilyasova.

“Joey is a very good coach,” Babcock said. “Being close friends, too, he can tell me what's on his mind. If, say, one of the guys wasn't doing what he should be doing, he can call me right away and say, ‘Dave, can you call Ramon and stress we need to work on this?' And vice versa. If we felt Ersan wasn't being used the right way, we'd call and say, ‘How about moving him over here and doing this?' We'll both listen and try to make it work.”

First- and second-year players are eligible to be assigned by their NBA teams to D-League affiliates for any length of time. High draft picks aren't likely to be assigned, but players such as Bucks rookie guard Jodie Meeks or Pacers rookie guard A.J. Price could be possibilities.

The Bucks did not send any players to Fort Wayne last season in their first year of affiliation with the Mad Ants.

“It depends on your team and any players that you think will benefit,” Babcock said.

The Pistons have sent three players to the Mad Ants in their two seasons. Cheikh Samb spent significant time in Fort Wayne during the 2007-08 season and Walter Sharpe and Alex Acker played four games with the Mad Ants last season.

“We've used it a lot,” said George David, Pistons director of player personnel. “We think it's a great opportunity for guys who are unable to get minutes on our NBA roster to have a way to get minutes. We definitely feel it's a benefit.”

The close proximity of Detroit to Fort Wayne is also a plus, David said, because Pistons coaches and other personnel can make a quick trip to see their players in action.

Meyer's presence is another bonus, David said.

“We've been really happy with what Joey's done in the past in the D-League and we're looking forward to working with him as well,” David said. “We think it's a great hire for Fort Wayne and a great hire in terms of our relationship with Fort Wayne.”

The Pacers have yet to send a player to the D-League, but that could change, according to General Manager David Morway.

“So far, it's been strictly a matter of roster makeup,” Morway said. “Our young players, for the most part, have been part of our rotation or we felt it was important for young players not in our rotation to stay with the team and make sure they understood our schemes.”

Morway said Meyer has already been in touch with the Pacers and both sides feel it will be a good working relationship. Morway said he likes the idea that he and Pacers President Larry Bird can send a player to Fort Wayne and make a two-hour drive to watch him in action.

“(Meyer is) a veteran coach with the college and pro game and we have a lot of respect for him,” Morway said. “It's an excellent hire for the franchise. He's reached out to us and talked to us and said he'll do whatever he can to help us send one of our players to him. We're really open to that. We know Joey will do the right things with a player.”

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