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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Suns Become 30th NBA Team to Have a G League Squad

  • Mat Ishbia made his latest move a year into owning the Suns.
  • The G League team comes at a time when the Suns are trying to win now in the NBA.
Phoenix Suns
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The G League is heading to Phoenix. 

The Suns organization, now under the umbrella of owner Mat Ishbia’s Player 15 company for his sports and entertainment ventures, became the final NBA team to have an affiliated team with the league. A location for home games and a team name have both yet to be determined, though the name will be decided through a fan contest with the winner getting $1,000. 

Over the years, G League teams have served as a minor league for the NBA, with each team valuing their affiliate differently. G League teams have created pipelines for organizations to promote players, coaches, and front office members over the years. Sixers coach Nick Nurse coached in the G League for six years and shone a new light on those who have come up through the league when he led the Raptors to the 2019 NBA title. 

Ishbia’s decision to invest in a G League team comes as he’s spending wildly to bring a championship to the desert immediately. G League teams have historically been money losers that struggle to attract attendance and develop a fan base. 

The Suns traded for Kevin Durant shortly after buying the team for a record $4 billion to pair with homegrown Devin Booker. Ishbia is looking at a payroll of more than $187 million at the end of this season and a $50 million tax bill that comes with it. Given the Suns’ luxury tax situation and lack of draft assets after trading for Durant and Bradley Beal the following summer, the team is limited in its ability to upgrade the roster despite having a title contender on the floor.

Can the G League team produce some players on team-friendly contracts to help fill out the roster?

What’s left unanswered is whether the G League is done expanding. Phoenix gives the league 33 teams, including the G League Ignite in Las Vegas, which develops players who are uninterested in playing college basketball. The league also went international when it added a team in Mexico City ahead of the 2021–22 season. 

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