REPORT: Wayne State Partners with Pistons for G League Arena by 2021, Grand Rapids Balks

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The Grand Rapids Drive may not be coming to Detroit as the Pistons G League affiliate in 2021-2022. (Alyssa Keown/MLive.com)

The Pistons recently moved from Auburn Hills back to the large city of Detroit. Now, it appears their G League team will be following suit as soon as 2021. The Pistons and Wayne State formally agreed to the construction of a $25 million arena to house the university’s mens and women’s basketball teams – and the Pistons G League team according to The Detroit News. The athletic facility was approved by a vote of 8-0 via the Board of Governors.

“This is a watershed moment for Wayne State University. Now our basketball teams will have a state-of-the-art facility to play in,” school president M. Roy Wilson said in a press conference, via Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “It’s not just the fact that we have better facilities and the passion it’s going to incite in the crowd. It’s going to benefit so many other ways.”

“Obviously, this is a game-changer. There are so many things we can do with this, not just with our basketball program, but for inner-city athletics, state playoff games, bringing tournaments in here,” Wayne State athletic director Rob Fournier said via Beard. “It really gives us a cornerstone; this is the centerpiece. Matthaei is nice but this will be illuminating and transformational.”

Construction of the facility is expected to be completed in 2021 with the 2021-2022 season planned to be the first. The 70,000 square-foot arena will hold 3,000 people in addition to housing offices and locker rooms for both teams. The only hold up is that the current G League affiliate for the Pistons is not confirming they will be the ones moving.

James Hawkins of The Detroit News says that the Grand Rapids Drive are balking at the proposed move to Detroit.

“We are deeply committed to our fans and love being part of the sports landscape in the community that we’ve called home since 2014,” the Drive said in a team statement. “This team has been community-built and supported for five seasons, and we are looking forward to continuing the growth of the franchise here in West Michigan.

“We have no plans on relocating to Detroit but (will) continue to have great communication and a positive relationship with the Pistons organization. We are solely focused on our sixth season this upcoming fall, in partnership with the Detroit Pistons and the NBA.”

This lack of coherent plans gives some doubt that the Drive will maintain being the Pistons’ affiliate by 2021. Detroit extended their relationship with the Drive through the 2021 season, and any changes of that would require NBA approval. The advantages of having a close G League team in proximity to the NBA one are numerous. Players would not be required to travel as far for games should they be fringe NBA players who still need G League work. G League players would also be exposed to NBA coaches and practices more frequently. Players like Svi Mykhailiuk and Khyri Thomas are two examples of those fringe players.

As the situation evolves, hopefully some clarity will be given. But right now, there seems to be some questions as to who will occupy the role of G League affiliate for the Pistons by the 2021-2022 season.

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