PHOENIX SUNS

New G League team Valley Suns to play at Mullett Arena in Tempe

May 22, 2024, 11:08 AM | Updated: 11:55 am

Valley Suns G League team logo...

The G League team, the Valley Suns, will play at Mullett Arena. (Screenshot)

(Screenshot)

The Phoenix Suns announced Wednesday that their new G League franchise will be called the Valley Suns and will play home games at Mullett Arena in Tempe starting in 2024-25.

Phoenix spent the last three seasons without a G League franchise after selling it to the Detroit Pistons in 2021, a move under former owner Robert Sarver that new owner Mat Ishbia wanted to correct as soon as possible. The Suns were the only NBA team this past season without a G League affiliate.

Suns CEO and president Josh Bartelstein, who helped introduce the new team at Arizona State University’s Mullett Arena, worked in the Pistons’ front office when that franchise pursued and purchased Phoenix’s G League squad in 2020.

A coaching staff and executive staff for the G League squad will be assembled next.

The previous affiliate, the NAZ Suns, played in Prescott Valley for four seasons after the NBA franchise moved the club to Arizona from Bakersfield.

 

Mullett Arena provides the G League’s Suns a home in close proximity to the franchise’s home base.

The Tempe arena is within 30 minutes of the Suns’ practice facility in Scottsdale and the Footprint Center in Phoenix. This is not especially common in the NBA.

Of the 29 other affiliates, seven are in another state entirely and nine more have at least an hour of distance between arenas.

The G League’s Suns will play in a Mullett Arena building that also hosts Arizona State hockey and was a temporary location for the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes over the past two seasons before the hockey team was relocated to Salt Lake City.

How will the G League’s Valley Suns help Phoenix’s NBA team?

A G League franchise will allow Phoenix to have a secondary base of talent to evaluate beyond its NBA roster. There have been a handful of success stories with players making it from the G League to an NBA roster and holding a spot from there, including former NAZ Sun Derrick Jones Jr. He joined the Miami Heat back in the 2017-18 season and is now a starter for the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

The Suns will also have more flexibility with the three players on their roster via two-way contracts.

The function of these contracts is to let those players go back and forth between the two rosters while on an NBA contract. Since Phoenix did not have its own franchise in close proximity and under its own system, it rarely utilized this ability since selling its G League team under former owner Robert Sarver in 2021. Two-way contract signings will now have the opportunity for more game-time to improve instead of relying on practices and scrimmages.

What they said

“We are excited for Mullett Arena to be the home of the Valley Suns,” said Mullett Arena general manager Amber Musgrave. “We are dedicated to creating memorable experiences for the community and look forward to extending the ‘Mullett Magic’ beyond our Sun Devil Athletic events, concerts, comedy and family shows to now include the Valley Suns.”

“The Valley Suns is the community’s team and will provide fans an energetic and family-friendly atmosphere while developing aspiring talent on and off the court,” Bartelstein said. “We’re excited to launch the new G League team with a name and identity chosen by our fans and inspired by the unique desert landscape that we call home.”

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