The Wizards have officially purchased their own second division team in what is now called the G-League, and it'll be made official later today by the NBA, according to league sources to CSNmidatlantic.com.
The team, which has yet to be named, will begin play in 2018-19 and the Wizards' new practice facility that will open in Ward 8 in southeast.
This will raise the number of NBA teams with their own affiliates or one-to-one-relationships to 27. It was formerly known as the D-League, short for Developmental, until Gatorade became the primary sponsor going into 2017-18.
It'll be a major hurdle cleared for the Wizards, who haven't been able to get the full benefit from their younger players absent their own developmental team. Instead, they were using the flex assignment system. Sheldon Mac went to the Delaware 87ers, run by the Philadelphia 76ers, on several occasion as rookie last season. Chris McCullough was sent to the Northern Arizona Suns (Phoenix Suns).
The benefit to the Wizards is obvious: They'd have their own coaches and staff teaching their players their system and it'll be easier to evaluate their progress when it's a quick drive from Chinatown rather than taking flights to harder-to-reach areas such Fort Wayne, Ind.
With the Wizards set to pick at No. 52 in Thurday's draft, that'll likely be a player who'll need development -- not a rotation player -- which has been a major focus under Scott Brooks who completed his first year as coach in Washington. Mac, Daniel Ochefu and Danuel House were undrafted rookie free agents who had difficulty getting on the court.
Even Tomas Satoransky, who had four years pro experience in Spain, went through long stretches on the bench and could've benefitted from playing time in a second division to work on his jump shot. As the 82-game NBA season drags on, practice time lessens because of the schedule.
The team comes at a time when development is taking on heightened importance around the league. In the 2017 collective bargaining agreement, two-way contracts are a new wrinkle that will allow NBA rosters to grow from 15 to 17 players.
It'll pay those designated two-way players more which should make staying in the U.S. more likely rather than going overseas. The carrot dangled is the chance to move up and have that two-way contract converted to a full NBA deal.
Of course, to do this a G-League team is required and the Wizards will have that base covered after one more season of going without.