New Orleans Pelicans Announce Intent to Launch Owned-And-Operated NBA Development League Franchise in Gulf South Region

March 30, 2017 

NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the organization intends to launch its own NBA Development League team with the intention of beginning play in the 2018-2019 season when the league will be known as the NBA Gatorade League (NBA G League). The franchise is sending a Request for Proposal (RFP) to 11 different cities and/or communities across Louisiana (seven), Mississippi (two), Alabama (one) and Florida (one). The cities were selected based on our team and NBA research. The team will be owned and operated by New Orleans Pelicans Owner Tom Benson and will be a direct, one-to-one affiliate of the Pelicans.

“Our goal is to establish a Development League team in nearby proximity to our home base of New Orleans,” said Tom Benson. “I have been very impressed with the growth and structure of the NBA Developmental League. It is a wise and necessary investment into the future of the Pelicans. The team will provide us with a better platform of developing our younger players and staff. It also will allow us the opportunity to widen the spectrum of fans that come in contact with our organization on a regional basis. In addition, it will provide us with the opportunities to further promote the game of basketball and further our community support to the region. This will be a very significant addition for a city near us as it will add global exposure and bring professional basketball to their town.”

The D-League is the NBA’s official minor league, which was founded in 2001. The NBA D-League currently features twenty-two (22) teams with direct affiliations to NBA teams. An additional three teams, affiliated with the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks are set to join what will be known as the NBA G League for the 2017-2018 season.

The NBA D-League is made up of 50 regular season games plus a postseason and runs from November to April. The league fosters the connections to the communities that the teams serve and promotes health and wellness, supports local needs and interests and assists in educational development through NBA D-League Cares programs.

As the research and development arm of the NBA, the NBA D-League seeks to advance the game of basketball. A proven developer of NBA-caliber talent, almost 40 percent of current NBA players have NBAD-League experience as connectivity between the NBA and the NBA’s official minor league continues to grow. Recent changes to the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement have reinforced that synergy, as NBA teams will be able to have up to two “two-way players” on their rosters beginning next season. These “two-way players” will gain experience in the NBA, but will primarily play in the NBA G League as part of their NBA journeys.

Currently the following teams play in the NBA D-League: Austin Spurs (San Antonio Spurs), Canton Charge (Cleveland Cavaliers), Delaware 87ers (Philadelphia 76ers), Erie BayHawks (Orlando Magic), Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Indiana Pacers), Grand Rapids Drive (Detroit Pistons), Greensboro Swarm (Charlotte Hornets), Iowa Energy (Memphis Grizzlies), Long Island nets (Brooklyn Nets), Los Angeles D-Fenders (Los Angeles Lakers), Maine Red Claws (Boston Celtics), Northern Arizona Suns (Phoenix Suns), Oklahoma City Blue (Oklahoma City Thunder), Raptors 905 (Toronto Raptors), Reno Bighorns (Sacramento Kings), Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Houston Rockets), Salt Lake City Stars (Utah Jazz), Santa Cruz Warriors (Golden State Warriors), Sioux Falls Skyforce (Miami Heat), Texas Legends (Dallas Mavericks), Westchester Knicks (New York Knicks) and Windy City Bulls (Chicago Bulls).
Other municipalities interested can contact the New Orleans Pelicans.