The Pelicans announced they will have a designated G League affiliate starting in the 2019-20 season. The development franchise will be based out of Birmingham, Alabama once the Legacy Arena finishes its $123 million renovation. New Orleans now joins a list of 27 other NBA teams that have G League affiliates.
The Pelicans delivered the official news on Wednesday.
The New Orleans Pelicans and the NBA G League today announced that the Pelicans have acquired the right to own and operate an NBA G League team that will play in the renovated Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. The team is expected to debut in Birmingham in the 2022-23 season following the renovations. With today’s announcement, the NBA G League expands to a record 28 teams for the 2019-20 season.
Until the move to Birmingham is complete, the new franchise will play in Erie, Pennsylvania. The Hawks’ G League affiliate currently plays in Erie (the BayHawks), but Atlanta plans to move the team to College Park, Georgia.
According to NOLA.com, the Pelicans’ negotiations to move the team to Shreveport, Louisiana unraveled over the past year.
After negotiations broke down with Shreveport, the franchise started looking elsewhere for places to put a team and ultimately decided on Birmingham. The Pelicans and the city of Birmingham have been working on this deal for over a year.
Along with the logistics of the addition, Pelicans Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations Dell Demps explained the advantages that the new affiliate will bring to New Orleans’ player development.
“As a former coach and general manager in the G League, I fully understand the importance of player development and the significance behind giving players a chance to gain valuable experiences in game situations ones that can’t be replicated in practice or the film room.”
The Trail Blazers and Nuggets remain as the only NBA teams without a G League affiliate. That could change quickly, though, as ESPN’s Jonathan Givony hinted that Denver is moving to obtain an affiliate of its own.