New Orleans Pelicans Announce D-League Franchise

Published: April 3, 2017

On Friday the New Orleans Pelicans announced the formation of a D-League (soon to be G-League, but I refuse to call it that) franchise. A lot of details are still yet to be determined, but the team will be based in the Gulf South region, owned by the Pelicans, and being play in the 2018-2019 season.

The addition of a D-League team is a nice move by the Pelicans. Cheick Diallo has been bouncing around multiple D-League teams this season, but each runs a different offense. When the Pelicans’ team launches the D-League affiliate will run the same offensive and defensive systems. This will make the transition easier for players (particularly those on two-way contracts under the new CBA) that are spending time with both teams.

More than just using the D-League as a way to (hopefully) develop NBA talent, the Pelicans have the ability to develop coaching talent as well. When an assistant leave the Pelicans will be able to promote from within, which could hopefully lead to an influx of young coaching talent.

The location of the team hasn’t been decided and the team is considering the following cities: Shreveport, Baton Rouge, St. Tammany Parish, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, Alexandria. Jackson, Gulfport/Biloxi. Pensacola. Mobile.

Personally, I’d pick Mobile.

While not a game changer for this franchise, this is a nice move for the Pelicans–especially given the addition of two-way contracts. Currently 22 NBA teams have their own D-League team. With this announcement the Pelicans show they do not want to lag behind the modern NBA.

More importantly, this is an opportunity for the Pelicans to market the team to a much larger audience, much as the Saints did for the Gulf South region after Katrina. It will be interesting to see how the Pelicans brand their D-League affiliate.

The full press release is below:

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.


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