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Phoenix Suns not sending G League team to Disney bubble

Suns guard Ty Jerome makes his debut with the Northern Arizona Suns on Tuesday, Nov. 26 at the Findlay Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona. (Matt Hinshaw/NAZ Suns)

The Northern Arizona Suns have officially played their last game as an affiliate of the Phoenix Suns.

The G League team announced Wednesday it would not play a 2020-21 season in a bubble at Disney World.

Only 18 of the G League’s 28 teams will participate, including the new G League Ignite squad of NBA prospects. The NBA announced the Florida bubble plan on Wednesday.

“The Northern Arizona Suns today announced that, per an option provided by the league, the team will not participate in 2020-21 G League competition,” the Northern Arizona Suns said in a statement, “but select Suns two-way players and assigned players will be designated to participating teams for their development.

“The decision comes following the G League’s announcement of this year’s season taking place at a single site for the 2020-21 season.”

Phoenix has one two-way player, rookie guard Ty-Shon Alexander, who could be sent to the bubble and play for another team.

In July of last year, the Suns agreed to sell their G League team to the Detroit Pistons, who will move the franchise to Michigan after the 2020-21 season. The Northern Arizona Suns had already announced they would move to the Phoenix metro area and away from their home in Prescott Valley prior to the sale.

Phoenix general manager James Jones said in a statement after the sale that the NBA team’s “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.”

As of November, the team still planned to operate in the Phoenix area if the G League went forward with a relatively regular season of travel. Instead, plans were formalized by the G League to play in a bubble environment, and The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that team costs for “healthy and safety” would range from $400,000-$500,000.

If the G League is back on a regular track next season, the Suns will join only the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers as NBA teams that don’t have a one-to-one relationship with a G League team.

Twenty-seven teams in the NBA own and operate their respective G League squads, while the Ignite team was created to include draft prospects who wanted to play professionally in the United States instead of heading overseas or to college.

2021 NBA G League bubble teams

Agua Caliente Clippers (LA Clippers)
Austin Spurs (San Antonio Spurs)
Canton Charge (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Delaware Blue Coats (Philadelphia 76ers)
Erie BayHawks (New Orleans Pelicans)
Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Indiana Pacers)
Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte Hornets)
Iowa Wolves (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Lakeland Magic (Orlando Magic)
Long Island Nets (Brooklyn Nets)
Memphis Hustle (Memphis Grizzlies)
Oklahoma City Blue (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Raptors 905 (Toronto Raptors)
Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets)
Salt Lake City Stars (Utah Jazz)
Santa Cruz Warriors (Golden State Warriors)
Westchester Knicks (New York Knicks)


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