The Pistons have reached an agreement to purchase the Northern Arizona G League franchise from the Suns, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Athletic. An announcement was made this morning by the Pistons, the Suns, and the G League.
The team will be given a new name and is expected to play in an arena currently under construction at Wayne State University, starting in the 2021/22 season. Grand Rapids will continue to serve as the Pistons’ G League affiliate next season, while the Suns will operate the Northern Arizona franchise for another year (Twitter link).
The Drive plan to stay in their current location and remain in the G League as an unaffiliated team, a source tells James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Trail Blazers and Nuggets are the only other NBA teams without a direct G League affiliate, so it’s possible they could emerge as eventual options for the Drive, Edwards adds (Twitter link).
“The Drive remain committed to the city of Grand Rapids and we look forward to our continued future here in West Michigan within the NBA G League,” the Drive stated in a press release (Twitter link from Rod Beard of The Detroit News). “We’ve begun discussions about the future of our affiliation; details of which we hope to have in the coming weeks. Our focus has been, and will continue to be, providing the people of West Michigan with a great professional basketball experience.”
The Pistons’ contract with the G League team expires after next season, and Grand Rapids officials had said they weren’t interested in moving the franchise to Detroit, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).
Phoenix GM James Jones released a statement on the deal, saying ownership of the Northern Arizona team “does not align with the Phoenix Suns’ strategic plan for player development over the next three-to-five years,” tweets Adam Johnson of 2 Ways and 10 Days. Jones said the G League team will play in Phoenix next season at an undetermined venue before being sold to the Pistons.