Warriors ownership buys D-League team, may move to Bay Area

First reported by BANG Warriors beat writer Marcus Thompson (via David), the Golden State Warriors are buying the D-League’s Dakota Wizards franchise with an eye on moving it to the Bay Area. Both Thompson and Tim Kawakami think the eventual landing spot will be San Jose, which could create a plant-the-flag situation a la Bill Neukom buying into the San Jose Giants.

The ownership change will make the W’s only the fourth team to have sole control of a D-League team, the others being the Lakers, Spurs, and Thunder. All others have shared development pacts with one other team. That doesn’t mean that it always works. While it allows the parent team to install the exact offensive and defensive systems used by the big boys, it doesn’t always mean that the parent club will take advantage of it. The Lakers actually pulled back and didn’t operate the D-Fenders last season because they hadn’t figured out a way to effectively transition players from the D-Fenders to the Lakers. Operating a club is also expensive. The Lakers struggled figuring out a proper venue for the D-Fenders before settling on having the games be part of an early doubleheader with Lakers game. Given the notoriously late-arriving Lakers crowd at Staples, you can imagine how poor the attendance was. For the upcoming year, home games for the D-Fenders will be at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. The Spurs and Thunder have traditional out-of-town satellite relationships with their D-League teams (Austin and Tulsa respectively).

If you’re wondering where the Dakota Wizards might play after their last season in Bismarck, don’t think big as in the HP Pavilion. Too costly to do the changeover, and much too big for a D-League franchise, where the average attendance is around 3,000 per game. Instead, look to an ancient one-time barnstorming home of the Warriors, the San Jose Civic Auditorium. The Civic holds 3,000 and generally has a wide-open schedule. That lineage could also a factor. My favorite Rick Barry anecdotes are about playing in old arenas, including one where he chased a loose ball out of bounds along the baseline at the Civic and ended up running through a door and completely out of the arena onto San Carlos Street.

Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center would also be a good candidate, though I understand it would require some unknown amount of improvements before it was ready to host games again. There’s also the possibility of the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium being in play.

Update 1:30 PM – SJ Giants CEO Jim Weyermann has been named VP of Franchise Development for the Dakota Wizards. Given Weyermann’s South Bay ties, chances are that the franchise will move to the Bay Area once the sponsorships are lined up.

16 thoughts on “Warriors ownership buys D-League team, may move to Bay Area

  1. Who owns Civic Auditorium? The city of San Jose?” How about these conditions – Lacob can only bring his minor league team here if he assists – not prevents – efforts to bring an NBA team to San Jose. Otherwise, take a hike.

  2. I doubt they’ll be playing at The Civic because it’s just been remodeled as a music venue.

  3. Shame that couldn’t have been one of the San Jose Giants purchase requirements when the big Ginas bought in.

  4. Excuse me for not getting excited by this development.
    If I were SJ pols, I’d demand that the Warriors themselves move to SJ, with that D League crap going elsewhere in the Bay.
    If not, no deal!

  5. There were the San Jose Skyrockets (new ABA) at the Civic in 2005 or so. Attendance, um, was not through the roof. That place also has a weird setup with a 5-row-or-so lower deck and a steep, close upper deck.

  6. …if the Warriors try to move this minor league team to San Jose, look for it to end up at SJ State, I’ll bet. Won’t have to deal with the city, which wants the NBA, not some fourth-rate minor league team, for San Jose.

  7. @A’s Fan – The Civic’s floor was resurfaced and a new sound system and better rigging were added. I don’t think it precludes the venue from hosting basketball. Besides, I doubt the very-much-in-trouble Team San Jose says no to 25 guaranteed dates every year.

    @pjk – SJSU’s Event Center is a possibility. Not sure about how it would work with all of the other events that occur during the winter/spring. Only one other team in the D-League has a college venue as its home court.

  8. What will be interesting is if GS goes through with this foisting a D-League team on a city that at best doesn’t care and at worst doesn’t want it, and then later on someone does want to bring an NBA team in. I’d imagine we’ll see a lawsuit on the level of the ones Al Davis brought against LA and Oakland when he wanted to make moves (and I suspect the outcome would be the same). Particularly if we’re dealing with a potential NBA owner like Larry Ellison.

  9. …in Winnipeg, they’ve had a minor league hockey team that’s been quietly moved to make way for the return of the NHL. In San Jose, we get intruders foisting minor league teams on us so they don’t have to deal with major league competition. Fabulous.

    • …in Winnipeg, they’ve had a minor league hockey team that’s been quietly moved to make way for the return of the NHL. In San Jose, we get intruders foisting minor league teams on us so they don’t have to deal with major league competition. Fabulous.

      That’s a very different scenario, since the owners of the arena and the minor league team bought the NHL team. Plus the minor league team was affiliated with the Vancouver team, and not some other team based in Winnipeg/Manitoba.

  10. would the nba reject a plan/deal with one of the richest men in the world, ellison, if he wants to buy a team and move them to sj. not only because of those dreaded two word territorial rights but also because the team here right now also probably will have their minor league team playing down in the south bay.

  11. But the point remains: the minor league team in Winnipeg was not used as some sort of shield to prevent competition for any existing major league team…While MLB has locked itself out of San Jose, relegating it to home for Double A ball, and the NBA may be on the verge of doing the same, only the NHL has given San Jose a major league chance and it’s paid off wonderfully.

  12. @pjk Except the point is annulled because the owner is the same. Do you think that if the SF Giants were to decide to move to SJ (say because “the big one” hit and Telco Park is now underwater) that the SJ Giants would stop them? Because that’s what the Winnipeg situation is most similar to, not the A’s moving to SJ.

  13. @pjk BTW, I’m not saying I support the idea that the SJ Giants (or a future D-League team) should be able to prevent a major league team from moving to SJ. I’m just saying the Winnipeg situation is not a strong argument for comparison.

  14. I could see this being another scenario where either a) The Warriors eventually move to SJ (HP/New Arena) and swap with the D-League or b) Another team moves to SJ and they get a payout for moving their D-League elsewhere.
    Either way, don’t pay for a new arena, however small. Just use SJSU or HP and it’ll be easier to uproot. I kind of like the idea of putting them in the SJSU arena. Give a discount for students and alumni and it should be easier to fill the stands.

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