On Monday, after much speculation, the Charlotte Hornets announced its plans and respective intent to own and operate their very own NBA D-League franchise.
"Having our own D-League team would provide us with the best opportunity to develop our young players, which is paramount in today's NBA," Hornets General Manager Rich Cho said in a statement. "This move would allow us to dictate how the team is run, including using the same offensive and defensive sets, play calls and philosophies as the Hornets do. It would also provide for a seamless and easy transition when moving players between our team and the D-League affiliate."
The franchise said it was sending a Request for Proposal (RfP) to seven cities throughout the Carolinas, seeking the best home for the D-League club. Cities receiving the RFP include Asheville, Fayetteville, Greensboro and Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as Charleston, Columbia and Greenville, South Carolina.
As recently as last summer, RidiculousUpside.com highlighted the efforts of Dennis Justice, a determined fan who advocated for the Hornets to set up shop for a minor league club in Asheville --- as stated above, the city will be amongst those receiving the RfP.
As of August 2013, Sports Business Daily ranked Asheville twenty-fourth amongst the top minor league markets across the United States. Charleston, South Carolina (also set to receive the RfP) was ranked eleventh overall.
"This is a very exciting time for us," said Hornets Sports & Entertainment President & COO Fred Whitfield. "The decision to take steps toward launching our own D-League club is yet another example of our owner's long-term commitment to our franchise and continues to show his willingness to invest in the resources needed to improve our basketball team. A D-League team would also allow us to continue to expand the Hornets brand regionally by having a presence in an additional market."
The Hornets are hoping the D-League team begins play during the 2016-17 season.
During the 2014 NBA Draft, the organization made P.J. Hairston the first D-League player of all time to be selected in the first round, drafting him 24th overall.