The Golden State Warriors have bought into the NBA Development League's Dakota Wizards, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, making the two teams one-to-one affiliates for the upcoming season. The D-League team has called an 11 a.m. press conference on Tuesday in Bismarck, ND, to announce the new affiliation.
Ridiculous Upside first reported on the Warriors interest in having a direct affiliation with a D-League team on June 6, and while they apparently had talks with several teams around the league, Dakota was the team they chose. The Wizards had officially been put up for sale in March.
"We have an extremely loyal fan base, and we really would like to see the Wizards stay here," owner Steve McCormick told the Bismarck Tribune at that time. "Our primary objective is to find local ownership. The team has been here for 16 years, and we would like it to stay here."
The Warriors are far from local, but considering the Wizards advertised 2011-12 season tickets in Monday's press release, there's a very good chance that the team will remain in Bismarck for at least the upcoming season.
The Warriors have had arguably more success than any other NBA team when mining talent from the D-League, having plucked Anthony Tolliver, Reggie Williams, C.J. Watson, Kelenna Azubuike, Jeff Adrien, Coby Karl, Cartier Martin, Chris Hunter, Jermareo Davidson and Renaldo Major out of the D-League over the past six years.
This season, however, there's a good chance the Warriors will instead use the D-League to develop the younger players on its roster. The Warriors picked up three new players in last week's NBA Draft -- Klay Thompson, Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Tyler -- and last season's rookies (Jeremy Lin, Ekpe Udoh) could also conceivably see a stint in the Development League.
It'd make sense that Tyler would be the top candidate to visit Ridiculous Upside's Bismarck headquarters, but new Warriors head coach Mark Jackson said last week that he saw Tyler as a contributor from Day 1.
"I don't have time to draft somebody (and wait) for a couple of years," Jackson told CSN's Matt Steinmetz. "He's a big kid who is an athlete, that can block shots, finish and rebound the basketball. He's going to have every opportunity to do it now. Who's to say we didn't get better today?"
Warriors general manager Larry Riley seemed to have a more realistic approach to one the biggest enigmas of the NBA Draft.
"What I want to see happen with this guy is to put some real muscle on him," Riley said. "And have Mark Jackson and his staff spend time with him. We're not going to rush him; we're going to give him plenty of time to develop and give him an opportunity to become a good NBA player. That's going to require some focus. He's young. There is some immaturity. I'm not going to duck that issue. But he seems to be committed, seems to be ready to go to work and we're anxious to go to work with him."
The Warriors will be the third team to become direct affiliates of their D-League team this offseason following in the footsteps of the New Jersey Nets (Springfield Armor), New York Knicks (Erie BayHawks) and Los Angeles Lakers (who brought back the L.A. D-Fenders). The Oklahoma City Thunder (Tulsa 66ers), Dallas Mavericks (Texas Legends), Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers) and San Antonio Spurs (Austin Toros) also own either part or all of their D-League affiliate.