Whoa! The Phoenix Suns sell their G-League affiliate to Detroit Pistons

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

In some random and surprising news, the Phoenix Suns have announced the sale of their G League affiliate to the Detroit Pistons.

In a move that seemingly came out of nowhere, the Phoenix Suns have agreed to sell their G-League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, to the Detroit Pistons. The team will stay in Arizona (venue to be determined) for next season before relocating to a new facility on Wayne State University campus in Detroit starting in 2021-2022.

I guess that’s one way to recoup some money lost due to the hiatus.

NBA G League President, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, said of the move:

"“I’m excited to welcome Tom Gores and the Detroit Pistons as NBA G League owners. 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 Northern Arizona Suns had the worst record in the G League this season (8-34) and the franchise waived the team’s leading scorer and assist man, two-way contract player, Jared Harper, in March.

Related Story. Phoenix Suns waive Jared Harper for some reason. light

The Phoenix Suns justify the sale of their G League affiliate.

In an effort to explain away this extremely surprising move besides being a money-grab, James Jones, in an official statement, said the following:

"After an extensive internal review we 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, including the following factors:"

"The Suns’ team priorities drive our decision-making which in this case is the development of the youngest roster in the NBA."

"Roster positions 11-15 is the focus of the organization’s developmental time and efforts."

"The teaching experience of the Phoenix Suns coaching staff operating within a shared set of guidelines creates an effective learning environment and growth opportunities for our players."

"The value of daily practice and the competition against NBA players provides significant improvement opportunities for developing players."

"We will maintain our emphasis on evaluating/scouting NBA G League players for future roster consideration."

To translate that over-messaging: deep bench and two-way players can better their skills by practicing against Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton more than they can by playing games against G League competition. Oh, and coaches in the Valley are better too. Definitely nothing to do with, ahem, money.

Former NAZ Suns player Ty Jerome isn't ready for NBA minutes. light. Related Story

The Suns will now become the third NBA franchise without a G League affiliate, joining the Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets. The Pistons plan on keeping their “hybrid” model with the Grand Rapids Drive.

Hybrid means they don’t actually own the team, but use it develop players.

At the end of the day, the biggest impact directly to the Phoenix Suns themselves will be less game experience for the 15th man on the roster (currently Jalen Lecque), other rookies, or guys coming back from injury.

The two-way contract players the Suns sign in the future will still be eligible to play for other G-League teams. For what it is worth, the Agua Caliente Clippers, the LA Clippers’ affiliate who play their games in Ontario, CA, is the next closest team in proximity to Phoenix.

The only anticipatory piece of info to drop next will be where the Northern Arizona Suns play next season because the team announced their venue is to be determined. Part of me wonders, with a G League expansion team already set to start in Mexico City (Los Capitanes), if the Suns might move south and play in Mexico for a year to expand their brand there.

Of course, that is pure conjecture.

For now, all we can do is file this into the shocking news cabinet and get ready for the NBA regular season to start back up. The Phoenix Suns play the Washington Wizards on Friday.

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