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New for 2012: Santa Cruz Warriors

The former Dakota Wizards are now the Santa Cruz Warriors and playing out of Kaiser Permanente Arena, as the Golden State Warriors move their D-League team to the Bay Area.

The Dakota Wizards played out of Bismarck, N.D., a holdover from the old CBA. Last year the Warriors bought the Wizards and took a year to determine whether to leave the team in North Dakota or shift it closer to Warriors braintrust.

The team will open the season on the road before playing a first game at the new arena on Dec. 23. No surprise: the 2,700-seat arena isn’t actually done, so work crews will need the full month to finish things.

Judging by press coverage, players and coaches are happier playing out of the Bay Area than Bismarck, which can be such a cheery place in January and February. From the San Jose Mercury News:

“Being this close to Oakland, the proximity is great,” said coach Nate Bjorken, who is beginning his sixth season in the D-League. “The reason it’s so nice is the Golden State front office can come and watch us play, coaches can come and watch us play and that always serves as motivation for our guys.”

The Warriors are the fourth D-League team to be owned by an NBA parent.

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