Northern Arizona Suns

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Northern Arizona Suns
Northern Arizona Suns logo
League NBA G League
HistoryLong Beach Jam
ABA: 2003–2005
Bakersfield Jam
D-League: 2006–2016
Northern Arizona Suns
Motor City Cruise
in 2021
Arena Findlay Toyota Center
Location Prescott Valley, Arizona
Team colorsPurple, orange, black, gray [1] [2] [3]
General managerJeff Feld [4]
Head coachBret Burchard
Ownership Phoenix Suns
Affiliation(s) Phoenix Suns
ChampionshipsABA: 1 (2004)
D-League/G League: 0
Division/Conference titlesABA: 1 (2004)
D-League/G League: 1 (2013)

The Northern Arizona Suns are an NBA G League team based in Prescott Valley, Arizona and the minor league affiliate of the Phoenix Suns. The franchise began as the Long Beach Jam in 2003 under the revived American Basketball Association and moved to Bakersfield in the D-League in 2006 as the Bakersfield Jam; after 10 years in Bakersfield, California, the franchise was moved to Prescott Valley in 2016 by the Phoenix Suns and were subsequently renamed the Northern Arizona Suns. In 2021, the team will relocate to Detroit as the Motor City Cruise.


Long Beach Jam (2003–2005)

During the year-long hiatus that the American Basketball Association had in the 2002–03 season, one of the teams the league approved of would be the Long Beach Jam. In the team's inaugural season, the Jam managed to procure NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, fellow veteran Corey Gaines, up-and-coming player Matt Barnes, and Japanese point guard Yuta Tabuse on their squad. They also got former NBA Finals winning head coach Paul Westhead during the start of the season, but he managed to procure himself an assistant coach gig with the Orlando Magic after their first game of the season. Nevertheless, with the presence of players like Rodman, Gaines and Tabuse under new head coach Earl Cureton, the Jam would hold a 24–7 record. It was not only considered the best record of the league that season, but also gave the Jam a bye all the way into the Finals, where they competed against the winner of the Kansas City Knights (the previous champions of the ABA) and the Juárez Gallos. In the championship round, the Jam barely escaped against the Knights to win the ABA Championship with a final score of 126–123.

In their second and final season under the Long Beach name, the Jam began their season under a pedestrian 8–6 record with another NBA Hall of Famer, this time Nate "Tiny" Archibald, leading the way as head coach during the first half of the 2004–05 season. On January 17, 2005, Archibald resigned from his position as head coach and had former player and future head coach of the Phoenix Mercury, Corey Gaines, assigned as their new head coach during the second half of their season. In that season, they managed to produce an 18–10 record in a greatly expanded ABA, with Gaines improving the team with a 10-4 second half during that season, which produced them with the second-best record in the Red Division. The Jam competed in the playoffs and made it to the quarterfinals, where they lost 130–115 to the Utah Snowbears (who produced a 25–1 that season), who would surprisingly end up forfeiting their last match to the Bellevue Blackhawks (potentially due to sunk costs with the team) since the Snowbears folded soon afterwards, while Bellevue lost the championship match to the Arkansas RimRockers. After the end of that season, the Jam withdrew from the 2005–06 ABA season to move to the NBA Development League the following season, with the intent to also move to Bakersfield soon afterwards. [5]

Bakersfield Jam (2006–2016)

After their first season in Bakersfield ended in 2007, there was a contest where the fans could decide on a new name for the team. The choices were to rename the team Desperados, Roughnecks, Oilers, or keep the name Jam. On May 17, the team announced that the team will remain the Bakersfield Jam, as that name won the poll in a landslide vote. [6]

The team played at Rabobank Arena until 2009 and later at the Jam Events Center.

On April 29, 2009, it was reported that the Jam had ceased operations, citing lack of sufficient fan attendance. However, on June 18, the Jam announced that they had not shut down and plan to play in the 2009–10 season, with further details to come the following day. [7]

On April 30, 2014, it was reported that the Jam would enter a hybrid operation with the Phoenix Suns. Not only would that lead to the Suns having exclusive collaborations with the team, but it would also allow the Jam to operate under their own management in the process. On May 9, it was confirmed that the Suns and the Jam would agree to working under a hybrid affiliation. [8] Four days later, the Jam completed their transition by allowing Suns scout Bubba Barrage to be the team's newest general manager and letting Nate Bjorkgren coach the Jam in place of Will Voigt. [9] Since the Dignity Health Event Center seated only 500, the team did not sell individual general admission tickets and were sold to season ticket holders only.

On May 29, 2015, it was announced that Nate Bjorkgren would leave the Jam to take part in the Suns' organization as a leading player development and assistant coach. [10] Three months later, former NBA coach Chris Jent would be the newest head coach for the Jam.

Northern Arizona Suns (2016–2021)

On April 12, 2016, the Phoenix Suns announced that the organization had officially purchased the Jam and were relocating the franchise to the town of Prescott Valley, Arizona, for the 2016–17 season and became the Northern Arizona Suns. [11] In response, the previous owners of the Jam franchise, Stan Ellis and David Higdon, announced that they have been working with the D-League in securing a new franchise and affiliation before the 2016–17 season, although it did not come to fruition. [12] On May 2, it was announced that former Arizona Sundogs and current Arizona Rattlers president, Chris Presson, would become the new team president for the Suns. The new team logo and jerseys for Northern Arizona was officially unveiled on May 11 [13] [14] and the front office personnel and coaching staff were announced on August 16. [15] During their first season as the Northern Arizona Suns, the team started out the season strong, entering with a 10–1 record. However, the Suns would enter a major losing streak after having Tyler Ulis and Alan Williams briefly play for them via assignment, and would ultimately not recover from it afterward.

In the 2017 offseason, the D-League rebranded as the NBA G League. On October 20, 2017, the Suns had assistant general manager Louis Lehman take over general manager duties for the Northern Arizona Suns, while previous general manager Bubba Barrage remained in Phoenix as director of player personnel. [16] Three days later, head coach Tyrone Ellis became an assistant coach for Phoenix leaving assistant coach Tyler Gatlin as the interim head coach during the G League preseason. [17] Cody Toppert was named the head coach just prior to the start of the season. [18] The team finished the season with a 23–27 record and missed the playoffs. At the end of the season, head coach Toppert was promoted to an assistant coaching position in Phoenix. [19] He would be replaced by former Northern Arizona Suns assistant and Phoenix Suns' assistant coach Bret Burchard. [20]

Following the pandemic-shorted 2019–20 season, the Phoenix Suns announced that the team would relocate to the metro Phoenix area. [21]

Move to Detroit (2021)

On July 29, 2020, the Detroit Pistons announced that the organization had purchased the Northern Arizona Suns from the Phoenix Suns and were relocating the franchise to Detroit for the 2021–22 season to play at Wayne State Arena. It was also announced that the team's affiliation with the Grand Rapids Drive would end upon the completion of the 2020–21 season. [22] On October 30, the team name was announced as the Motor City Cruise. [23]

Season-by-season record

Season League Division/Conference Finish Wins Losses Pct. Postseason results
Long Beach Jam
2003–04 ABA 1st 24 7 .774 Won ABA Championship ( Kansas City) 126–123
2004–05 ABA Red 2nd 18 10 .643 Won ABA Quarterfinals ( Las Vegas) 148–126
Lost ABA Semifinals ( Utah Snowbears) 115–130
2005–06 Suspended operations for D-League application
Bakersfield Jam
2006–07 D-League Western 6th 19 31 .380
2007–08 D-League Western 5th 11 39 .220
2008–09 D-League Western 3rd 26 24 .520 Lost Round 1 ( Utah Flash) 0–1 (81–94)
2009–10 D-League Western 8th 17 33 .340
2010–11 D-League Western 4th 29 21 .580 Lost Round 1 ( Rio Grande Valley) 1–2
2011–12 D-League Western 3rd 28 22 .560 Won Round 1 ( Dakota) 2–0
Lost Semifinals ( Los Angeles) 0–2
2012–13 D-League Western 1st 36 14 .720 Lost Round 1 ( Austin) 0–2
2013–14 D-League Western 5th 24 26 .480
2014–15 D-League Western 2nd 34 16 .680 Lost Round 1 ( Austin) 1–2
2015–16 D-League Pacific 3rd 22 28 .440
Northern Arizona Suns
2016–17 D-League Pacific 3rd 22 28 .448
2017–18 G League Pacific 4th 23 27 .460
2018–19 G League Pacific 5th 12 38 .240
2019–20 G League Pacific 5th 8 34 .190 Season cancelled by COVID-19 pandemic
ABA regular season 42 17 .712 2003–2005
D/G League regular season 311 381 .449 2006–present
Playoffs 6 10 .375 2003–present
Totals combined 359 408 .468 2003–present

Current roster

Roster listing
Northern Arizona Suns roster
Players Coaches
Pos. No. Name Height Weight DOB (YYYY-MM-DD) From
G Alexander, Ty-Shon (TW) 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 195 lb (88 kg) 1998–07–16 Creighton
G 7 Blevins, Keljin 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 200 lb (91 kg) 1995–11–24 Montana State
F 21 Epps, Aaron 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 220 lb (100 kg) 1996–04–28 LSU
G 9 Hill, Ahmed 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 205 lb (93 kg) 1995–03–21 Virginia Tech
G 10 Jones, ShawnDre' 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) 170 lb (77 kg) 1994–11–18 Richmond
G 44 Krämer, David 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 1997–01–14 Germany
F 5 Lawrence, Anthony 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 210 lb (95 kg) 1996–09–06 Miami (FL)
G 15 Palmer, Trayvon 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 1994–11–13 Chicago State
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • (NBA) On assignment from NBA affiliate
  • (TW) Two-way affiliate player
  • (I) Inactive
  • Injured Injured

Last transaction: 2020–03–14

Former players

Players assigned by NBA teams

  • Derrick Jones Jr. was the first player assigned to the Northern Arizona Suns through the Phoenix Suns practice squad. He would be assigned to the squad on November 3, 2016, November 25, 2016, December 23, 2016, January 4, 2017, January 9, 2017, February 22, 2017, November 7, 2017, and November 20, 2017.
  • Tyler Ulis – Assigned by the Phoenix Suns on December 14, 2016.
  • Alan Williams – Assigned by the Phoenix Suns on December 14, 2016, March 15, 2018, and March 20, 2018.
  • Chris McCullough was the first player assigned to the Northern Arizona Suns via a different franchise besides the Phoenix Suns. He was assigned by the Washington Wizards on March 3, 2017 and on March 4, 2018.
  • Davon Reed – Assigned by the Phoenix Suns on December 28, 2017, January 8, 2018, and January 21, 2018.
  • De'Anthony Melton – Assigned by the Phoenix Suns on November 3, 2018, November 5, 2018, November 27, 2018, and February 20, 2019.
  • Élie Okobo – Assigned by the Phoenix Suns on November 13, 2018, December 11, 2018, and March 14, 2019.
  • Jalen Lecque – Assigned by the Phoenix Suns on October 28, 2019, November 28, 2019, December 26, 2019, January 21, 2020, February 6, 2020, and February 18, 2020.
  • Ty Jerome – Assigned by the Phoenix Suns on November 25, 2019, November 29, 2019, and March 4, 2020.

Players recalled by NBA teams

Players called up by NBA teams

  • Johnny O'Bryant III was the first player from the Northern Arizona Suns to be called up to an NBA team. He was first called up by the Denver Nuggets on January 26, 2017 for two 10-day contracts.
  • Johnny O'Bryant III was later called up by the Charlotte Hornets on February 24, 2017 before signing a multi-year deal on March 16, 2017.
  • Elijah Millsap was the first player from the Northern Arizona Suns to be called up to the Phoenix Suns. He was called up on a multi-year deal on April 9, 2017.
  • Isaiah Canaan was called up by the Phoenix Suns via disabled player's exception on December 13, 2017, one day after the Northern Arizona squad originally traded for him.
  • Josh Gray – Called up by the Phoenix Suns via 10-day contract on February 1, 2018, one day after Isaiah Canaan fractured his tibula in a game.
  • Shaquille Harrison – Called up by the Phoenix Suns via 10-day contract on February 20, 2018, one day after Josh Gray would have his second 10-day contract expire. He was called up on a multi-year deal on March 13, 2018.
  • Xavier Silas – Called up by the Boston Celtics via 10-day contract on March 28, 2018, just days after the regular NBA G League season concluded.

Players returned to the Suns

  • Johnny O'Bryant III was the first player to return to the Northern Arizona Suns after an NBA stint was concluded. He briefly returned to Northern Arizona on February 16, 2017.
  • Derrick Jones Jr. would be the first former Phoenix Suns player to get cut from the parent squad, only to return to the Northern Arizona squad on December 13, 2017.
  • Josh Gray – Returned to Northern Arizona on February 21, 2018.

Two-way players

  • Mike James became the first Suns player to hold a two-way affiliate contract to play in both the NBA and G League. James would sign his two-way contract with Phoenix on July 3, 2017, although he'd never officially get to play in Northern Arizona due to his contract concluding early on December 7, 2017.
  • Alec Peters was the first Phoenix Suns draft pick to sign a two-way contract between Phoenix and Northern Arizona. Peters would sign his two-way contract on September 18, 2017 and went to Northern Arizona on October 23, 2017, thus being the first official player to play for both Suns franchises.
  • Michael Young would be the first two-way player that's not a part of the Phoenix Suns' parent roster to play for the Northern Arizona Suns. Young would sign a two-way contract with the Washington Wizards on July 5, 2017 before being assigned to the Northern Arizona squad on November 13, 2017. [24] Young would be waived from the Wizards on January 3, 2018 without playing a single game for Washington at all. This would be the only season the Wizards would assign a player to whatever G League team they wanted to, as they prepared themselves for their new G League affiliate squad, the Capital City Go-Go, a season later.
  • Danuel House – Signed a two-way contract with the Phoenix Suns on December 8, 2017, one day after Mike James' two-way contract concluded. He'd join Northern Arizona on December 28, 2017.
  • George King – Signed a two-way contract with the Phoenix Suns on July 6, 2018.
  • Jawun Evans – Signed a two-way contract with the Phoenix Suns on December 7, 2018, after being claimed off waivers by Northern Arizona a month earlier.
  • Jared Harper – Signed a two-way contract with the Phoenix Suns on August 10, 2019.
  • Tariq Owens – Signed a two-way contract with the Phoenix Suns on January 15, 2020.

Players called up to two-way contracts

Head coaches

# Head coach Term Regular season Playoffs Achievements
G W L Win% G W L Win%
1 Paul Westhead 2003 1 1 0 1.000
2 Earl Cureton 2003–04 30 23 7 .767 1 1 0 1.000 ABA Championship (2004)
3 Nate Archibald 2004–05 14 8 6 .571
4 Corey Gaines 2005 14 10 4 .714 2 1 1 .500
5 Jim Harrick 2006–07 50 19 31 .380
6 Sean Rooks 2007–08 50 11 39 .220
7 Scott Roth 2008–09 50 26 24 .520 1 0 1 .000
8 Will Voigt 2009–14 150 134 116 .536 9 3 6 .333
9 Nate Bjorkgren 2014–15 50 34 16 .680 3 1 2 .333
10 Chris Jent 2015–16 50 22 28 .440
11 Tyrone Ellis 2016–17 50 22 28 .440
12 Cody Toppert 2017–18 50 23 27 .460
13 Bret Burchard 2018–present 50 12 38 .240

NBA affiliates

Bakersfield Jam

Northern Arizona Suns

Motor City Cruise


  1. ^ Withee, Jacob (October 16, 2017). "NAZ Suns Reveal Brand New Jerseys With Special Video". NBA Media Ventures, LLC. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  2. ^ "Jerseys/Logos" (PDF). 2018–2019 Northern Arizona Suns Media Guide. NBA Media Ventures, LLC. February 27, 2019. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  3. ^ "Northern Arizona Suns Reproduction Guideline Sheet". NBA Properties, Inc. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
  4. ^ Withee, Jacob (September 26, 2019). "Jeff Feld Named Northern Arizona Suns General Manager". NBA Media Ventures, LLC. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  5. ^ "Long Beach Jam History & Past Standings". Los Angeles Almanac. Archived from the original on May 25, 2006. Retrieved May 25, 2006.
  6. ^ Bakersfield To Keep Jammin'
  7. ^ The Jam is not toast after all
  8. ^ Phoenix Suns to use D-League Bakersfield as affiliate
  9. ^ Phoenix Suns to "make experience seamless" between Suns and D-League's Jam by using same system
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Phoenix Suns Buy Bakersfield Jam; Relocate Team to Prescott Valley, Arizona". OurSports Central. April 12, 2016.
  12. ^ "Phoenix Suns Purchase Bakersfield Jam". OurSports Central. April 12, 2016.
  13. ^ Petersen, Matt (May 11, 2016). "New Logo, Uniforms Cement Suns' D-League Presence in Prescott Valley". Phoenix Suns. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  14. ^ Kotloff, Brian (May 10, 2016). "Northern Arizona Suns Unveil Logo and Uniforms". NBA Development League. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Northern Arizona Suns endure hectic week as training camp opens". 2 Ways & 10 Days. October 25, 2017. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  18. ^ Jacob Withee (November 4, 2017). "Cody Toppert Named New Head Coach of Northern Arizona Suns". NBA G League.
  19. ^ "NAZ Suns' coach Cody Toppert joins Phoenix staff as assistant under Kokoskov". The Daily Courier. June 22, 2018.
  20. ^ "Bret Burchard Named Head Coach of Northern Arizona Suns". July 25, 2018.
  21. ^ "NAZ Suns announce they are leaving Prescott Valley". Arizona Daily Sun. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  22. ^ Beard, Rod (July 29, 2020). "Pistons buy G League team to play in Detroit for 2021-22; Grand Rapids Drive mull options". The Detroit News. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  23. ^ "Pistons announce G-League team name will be Motor City Cruise". WXYZ-TV. October 30, 2020.
  24. ^

External links