NEW YORK — The Detroit Pistons, the Phoenix Suns and the NBA G League today announced that the Pistons have agreed to purchase the Northern Arizona Suns from the Phoenix Suns. The rebranded team is expected to play in a new arena currently being constructed on the campus of Wayne State University beginning in the 2021-22 season.
“I’m excited to welcome Tom Gores and the Detroit Pistons as NBA G League owners,” said NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim. “It’s always bittersweet for a team to relocate, and I thank Robert Sarver and the Phoenix Suns for their time in this league and the fans in Northern Arizona for their ongoing commitment to the team. I’m sure the fans in Detroit will welcome the team with open arms and I look forward to watching NBA G League basketball at Wayne State for seasons to come.”
The Pistons current “hybrid” affiliation with the Grand Rapids Drive will continue through the 2020-21 NBA G League season. The Phoenix Suns will continue to operate the Northern Arizona Suns for the 2020-21 season.
Phoenix Suns GM James Jones said in a statement that after an internal review, “determined that ownership and management of the Northern Arizona Suns does not align with the Phoenix Suns’ strategic plan for player development over the next three-to-five years.”
In addition, Jones said the team’s priorities “drive our decision-making” including the development of the NBA’s youngest roster. Jones also said, among other things in the statement, that the Suns “will maintain our emphasis on evaluating/scouting NBA G League players for future roster consideration.”
Per the Suns, the Northern Arizona Suns will play in Phoenix at a to-be-determined venue for the 2020-21 season before moving to Detroit.
In May 2019, the Pistons announced a multi-faceted partnership with Wayne State University, including an NBA G League team to play in a new arena that the school is constructing for its men’s and women’s basketball programs less than two miles from both Little Caesars Arena and the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center.
In addition to playing games on the school’s campus, a move that will generate revenue and usage of the new facility, the organization will work with Wayne State administrators to create programs and internship opportunities for students in fields like sports marketing, community relations, physical therapy, rehabilitation and sports and entertainment business operations.
The NBA G League serves as the NBA’s developmental league preparing players, coaches, officials, trainers and front- office staff for NBA positions while acting as the league’s research and development laboratory. Playing with 28 teams for the 2019-20 season, the NBA G League is a proven developer of talent. A record 42 percent of NBA players to start the 2019-20 season had NBA G League experience, a number that rose to 57 percent when the season concluded on March 11.