The Phoenix Suns have sold their G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, to the Detroit Pistons, according to a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
The NAZ Suns will begin playing under the Pistons organization in 2021-22 and will stay in Phoenix for 2020-21 at a to-be-determined site -- if the season happens.
James Jones, Phoenix Suns general manager, said in the press release that after an 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."
Jones also said that the Phoenix Suns "will maintain our emphasis on evaluating/scouting NBA G League players for future roster consideration," despite leaving its two slots -- the best way to utilize G League talent -- empty for most of 2019. In 2020 the Phoenix Suns did have the slots filled for most of the season before the pandemic-caused pause in March, but now those roster spots are empty.
The move to sell the NAZ Suns not long after the Phoenix Suns announced plans to relocate the team out of its home in Prescott Valley -- where it had been since it moved there in 2016.
The move to Detroit is the fourth time in the NAZ Suns history that the organization has flipped. It started out as the Long Beach Jam in the ABA before becoming the Bakersfield Jam in the D-League and then of course turning into the NAZ Suns as part of the G League.
It is unclear if the move was made because of cost-saving measures caused by the pandemic, as the Phoenix Suns cut ties with two assistant coaches in late July before the team made its way to the NBA bubble in Orlando.
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