Storyline: G League Expansion

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Establishing a G League franchise on Mexican soil would be the latest serious step by the N.B.A. to gain a foothold in Mexico and gauge the viability of putting an N.B.A. team in the largest market in Latin America. While stressing that his league is not actively pursuing expansion or relocation for any of its 30 current franchises, Commissioner Adam Silver has described Mexico City as a natural contender for an eventual N.B.A. team on numerous occasions this year.

The N.B.A. G League is scheduled to have franchises owned or directly affiliated with 27 N.B.A. teams next season as it continues to work toward its long-stated “30 for 30” goal, which calls for every N.B.A. franchise to have a direct affiliate in the developmental league. The Mexico City franchise is likely to begin operations before the G League reaches 30 N.B.A.-owned franchises, but, according to the people, it would be owned and operated separate from the N.B.A.

Shreveport and Pensacola, Florida, are the two finalists as home for the Pelicans new NBA G League team, according to a release from Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler. The G League is the old NBA Development League or D-League. The Pelicans organization hasn’t made any announcements about its finalists for the team that is slated to begin playing in the 2018-19 season. The other three cities that were in the running were Baton Rouge, Jackson (Mississippi) and Mobile (Alabama).

The Memphis Grizzlies today unveiled their new NBA Development League affiliate team name and logo, The Memphis Hustle, which will debut this coming 2017-18 season when the league will be renamed the NBA Gatorade League (G League). Led by Head Coach Glynn Cyprien, the Memphis Hustle will practice at the Built Ford Tough Training Facility at FedExForum and play their 24 home games at the 8,400-seat Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi beginning this fall. Memphis Hustle founding partners include The Coca-Cola Company, Tanger Outlets and The Guest House at Graceland.

Inspired by the cultural ethos of Memphis and the Mid-South, the team name, Memphis Hustle, encapsulates the idea of hard work and persistence, a true nod to the Grit and Grind culture of the city, the region and its enthusiastic and loyal fan base. The typeface is a true amalgamation of the rich music history of the region from Ground Zero to the birthplace of soul at Stax, while the newly designed inline combines inspiration from the Grizzlies and Beale Street neon with the flow of the mighty Mississippi River. Ending with the star, paying tribute to the region’s biggest names and looking ahead to the Grizzlies stars of tomorrow.

The New Orleans Pelicans have reached out to Gulfport as a potential destination for its new NBA D-League affiliate. That inquiry begs the question: Can minor league basketball work in the Coast’s largest city? There’s no large arena in Gulfport and minor league basketball has yet to succeed in South Mississippi. Gulfport is one of 11 towns on the Pelicans’ preliminary list, joining seven sites in Louisiana — Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, Shreveport and St. Tammany Parish. Mobile, Pensacola and Jackson are the other potential destinations. The Pelicans are also open to hearing from other cities as they enter the early stages of getting a team ready to take the court for the 2018-19 season.

The Milwaukee Bucks and the NBA Development League today announced that the Bucks have acquired the right to own and operate an NBA D-League team that will begin play in Oshkosh, Wis., for the 2017-18 season. As part of the deal, Fox Valley Pro Basketball led by Greg Pierce will be constructing a new 3,500-seat arena for the new minor league team. With the purchase, the Bucks become the 20th NBA team to own and operate an NBA D-League affiliate while the NBA D-League grows to a record 25 teams for next season.

Members of current Hawks management have a previous relationship with the BayHawks. Wilcox helped create and run the BayHawks while he worked for the Cavaliers. The BayHawks were a multi-affiliated franchise at their start. John Treloar, the Hawks current director of player personnel, served as the coach of the BayHawks for the first two seasons. Wilcox helped run the BayHawks for a third season before the Cavaliers bought the D-League franchise in Canton. Wilcox served as that franchise’s first general manager until he joined the Hawks as assistant general manager in 2012.

The Hawks are in the final stages of an agreement to operate a D-League franchise much earlier than originally expected, according to a person familiar with the situation. The Hawks will replace the Magic in operating the Erie (Pa.) BayHawks beginning with the 2017-18 season. The deal would not interfere with the timeline for the Hawks’ planned franchise in College Park that will begin operating for the 2019-20 season.The deal in pending final approval. The Hawks will operate the BayHawks for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.

Silver mentioned that one of the most important factors in bringing the NBA abroad is whether the host city’s venue can support the teams. Silver pointed to Arena Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico as being a “state-of-the-art facility” that could host a D-League team in the future. Raul Zarraga, managing director of NBA Mexico said Thursday that it’s time for the country to start developing NBA-caliber players and the league needs “to work more closely with local authorities to see how we can grow the basketball professionally to find new players that in the future can play in the NBA. Silver agreed, saying the plan now is to start an NBA development academy in Mexico.

The Orlando Magic’s D-League affiliate is asking fans to help name its team that will play in Lakeland starting in the 2017-18 season. Ideas for team names can be submitted at www.OrlandoMagic.com/Lakeland from January 9 – January 20. The first person to submit the selected winning name will receive two season tickets for the inaugural 2017-18 season. In addition, the first 10 people to participate in the contest will receive a pair of opening night tickets for the inaugural 2017-18 Lakeland D-League season.

On Dec. 14, the Orlando Magic and the NBA Development League announced that the Magic purchased the Erie BayHawks with plans to relocate the team to Lakeland, Florida, to begin play during the 2017-18 season. With the purchase, the Magic became the 17th NBA team to own and operate their NBA D-League affiliate. The franchise, which will be owned and operated by the Orlando Magic, will play its 24 home games at The Lakeland Center. Season ticket deposits for the 2017-18 season are now being accepted by calling 407-447-2210 or logging on to http://www.OrlandoMagic.com/Lakeland.

In an interview with The Journal Times last week, Peter Feigin, the president of the Bucks, said the organization intended to make a decision by Thanksgiving on the location of their planned D-League team. Feigin said Racine, Oshkosh and Sheboygan all remained in the hunt. But Monday night, after the Bucks’ game against the Orlando Magic at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Feigin wasn’t optimistic about the team reaching a decision by Thursday. “I don’t think we’re going to do it by then,’’ Feigin said while leaving the building.

Spearheading Sheboygan’s mission to garner the Bucks’ D-League is Joe Wolf, who is considered by some the greatest high school basketball player ever in Wisconsin. Wolf played in the NBA, including one season with the Bucks, and later was an assistant coach for the team. He is also familiar with the D-League, having been the head coach of the Idaho Stampede and Colorado 14ers. “No news,’’ Wolf said Tuesday about whether Bucks officials had contacted him about the D-League situation. And Dickert said on Tuesday night, “We haven’t heard anything from them (the Bucks).’’

The Milwaukee Bucks appear on the brink of determining the location of their new NBA Development League team. Bucks president Peter Feigin told The Journal Times in late June that the organization had whittled the list of cities under consideration for its new D-League team to Racine, Oshkosh and Sheboygan. Now, almost five months later, Feigin said, “all three cities are still in the mix’’ and added, “We’re expecting to make a decision before Thanksgiving.’’

“We anticipate there will be people at all levels, not just local investors,’’ Dickert said. Dickert wouldn’t disclose the names of any potential investors, but did confirm Racine native and two-time NBA All-Star Caron Butler could be a part of a consortium of investors. Butler has consistently been involved in Racine community activities and said several years ago in a Journal Times report that he wanted to eventually do something significant for his hometown.

“It’s good shit, man. And now it’s gone.” Paul Waldon followed the familiar path to his courtside box suite as he said this. Along the Idaho Stampede side of the baseline, it was the same spot he’d had as a season-ticket holder from day one. Waldon brought his Stampede game program from November 14, 1997, to commemorate tonight’s contest. He’d given this quite some consideration – maybe he should rock his 2008 D-League championship hat, instead – but in the end he settled on the inaugural program with the first-ever Stampede roster card, the numbers and names of players aligned both alphabetically and numerically. The program was a sign that, for Waldon, this was a special event. Tonight’s game against the Santa Cruz Warriors wasn’t just the regular season finale; he was sure it was going to be the final game in team history.

The NBA Development League and the Sacramento Kings today announced that the team has acquired a controlling interest in the NBA D-League’s Reno Bighorns. With the purchase, the Kings become the 15th NBA team to own and operate its NBA D-League affiliate. “With today’s purchase, half of NBA teams now own and operate their NBA D-League affiliate – an important milestone that proves how essential developing top young NBA talent has become,” said NBA D-League President Malcolm Turner. “I’m thrilled to welcome Vivek Ranadivé and the Sacramento Kings’ ownership group to the NBA D-League family and want to thank Herb Santos for his integral role in Bighorns basketball.”

The Nuggets are likely to get back into the D-League business next season, according to league sources. But nothing has been decided or is imminent. Right now, the Nuggets are not affiliated with a team but can assign players to a D-League team connected to another NBA team. It has been seven years since the Nuggets last had a D-League team all to themselves. Those were the Colorado 14ers, a team that relocated to Frisco, Texas, in 2009 and became the Texas Legends. The Legends are affiliated with the Dallas Mavericks and are coached by former Nugget Eduardo Najera.

The Orlando Magic likely will select a site for their Florida-based NBA Development League affiliate within the next 30 days, Magic CEO Alex Martins told the Orlando Sentinel. Kissimmee’s Silver Spurs Arena and The Lakeland Center are the two finalists the Magic are considering. “We’re still in final discussions with both, and both have been asked to address some specific issues that we need answers for and direction on,” Martins said. “I believe that within the next 30 days we’ll have a decision made.”

The latest report on the Clippers stated there was a chance they could purchase a team and place them in Bakersfield, California. The Bakersfield Jam were the single affiliate for the Phoenix Suns, but the Suns purchased the franchise, moved them to Northern Arizona and renamed them the Northern Arizona Suns — NAZ in your area! Since that report, U&M has followed up and sources close to the team say that Doc Rivers and front office executives actually are hoping to have their future D-League team even closer than Bakersfield, so the likelihood of them having a team for next season dwindles greatly if that’s the case.
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