The Kings announced Monday they intend to relocate their G League team, the Reno Bighorns, to Stockton, pending league approval.
The team will be renamed to reflect its connection to the Kings and will play at Stockton Arena starting next season.
The Kings have been affiliated with Reno since 2008. Having the team closer makes sense logistically, with Stockton being about a 45-minute drive from Golden 1 Center.
That should prevent situations like weather impeding Kings players' ability to make it to a G League game. That happened to Malachi Richardson last season, when weather made it unsafe to drive from Sacramento to Reno.
“With the addition of NBA G League Basketball in the Central Valley, each of California’s NBA franchises have a powerful asset within an hour of their headquarters to help develop their players and expand their fan bases with elite professional basketball at an affordable price in a fun, family-friendly atmosphere,” NBA G League President Malcolm Turner said.
Kings G League general manager Anthony McClish and the basketball operations staff will use the former Kings Training Facility in Natomas, with access to the resources the Kings have, including Golden 1 Center.
Business operations will be based in Stockton under Dustin Toms, Kings G League vice president of business operations.
“Our NBA G League team has been an incredible asset to help prepare players for NBA action and bringing the team closer to Sacramento will allow us to continue to build on that success and increase efficiency to this valuable development tool,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said in a statement. “Kings fans in Stockton will now have an opportunity to see the next-generation of NBA players each week.”
The Bighorns won the Pacific Division last season while having three players earn call-ups to the NBA – Reggie Hearn to Detroit, David Stockton to Utah, and Aaron Harrison to Dallas.
The Kings also sent five different players on their roster for action to the G League this season in addition to utilizing two-way players Jack Cooley and JaKarr Samspon.
“It is my honor to welcome the Kings organization to Stockton, and I look forward to watching NBA G League action at the Stockton Arena,” Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs said in a statement. “The Kings have been known for their tremendous impact in the community and we’re excited to have their support as we continue to reinvent Stockton.”
Stockton Arena opened in 2005 and holds up to 12,000. It's also home to the Stockton Heat, who play in the AHL, one step below the NHL.
The Stockton City Council will review and vote on the agreement that will allow the team to use the arena April 17.
The Kings have made it known they intend to impact the community beyond games stemming from protests after the shooting death of Stephon Clark by Sacramento police officers.
The Kings will host a job fair in Stockton for jobs with the organization and join Tubbs for the State of the City and the first Sacramento Kings Community Day in Stockton on May 24.
“We’re excited to deepen our reach into Stockton and the region beyond,” Kings Chief Operating Officer Matina Kolokotronis said in a statement. “With new roots in the Central Valley, our mission to create change through sports will extend through the heart of California and we look forward to contributing meaningfully to the Stockton entertainment, commercial, and nonprofit ecosystem.”