Lots of changes in the NBA Development League on tap for the 2016-2017 season, as we’ll see new teams in Greensboro, the Chicago suburbs and Long Island — and there will certainly be additional changes for the 2017-2018 season.
First: the Greensboro Swarm, owned by the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, will play 24 home games at the Pavilion at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, which will be renovated into a basketball fieldhouse.
“When we selected the name and logo for our D-League team, it was important to us that they be closely tied to our Hornets brand,” said Hornets President & COO Fred Whitfield. “Swarm is a word that we often use in conjunction with the Hornets, as it not only describes a group of hornets but it also refers to a large, energetic gathering. We believe this name also represents the city of Greensboro, where fans gather in great numbers to support the game of basketball and show their excitement towards it. Swarm is a part of the DNA and the attitude of our Hornets franchise. Our D-League team is an extension of our organization, both on and off the court, and this name and logo embody that concept.”
Second: in Hoffman Estates, a Chicago Bulls D-League team will be setting up shop in the Sears Centre. The name of the team hasn’t been released, but we do know who will be leading the franchise: long-time Minor League Baseball exec Brad Seymour.
“We are very excited to welcome Brad Seymour to the role and into the Chicago Bulls family. The wealth of experience that Brad brings will ensure that we achieve our goal of creating a first-class organization in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. During the interview process, we were impressed with both his business acumen and the importance he places on building relationships with the community. Brad will be a great ambassador and leader for our new team,” said Michael Reinsdorf, President and COO, Chicago Bulls.
Third: the Long Island Nets, owned by the Brooklyn Nets, will play out of Barclays Center in 2016-2017 and a renovated Nassau Coliseum in 2017-2018 and beyond.
“The creation of a D-League club goes hand in hand with the building of a younger, more athletic Brooklyn Nets team,” said Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov in a press release. “It will provide additional roster opportunities that will serve us well as we focus on realizing the full potential of our coaches and players, current and future.”
“The Long Island Nets will be a great brand extension of the Brooklyn Nets, and will give us the opportunity to reclaim a territory that was once ours,” said Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark. “The creation of the Long Island Nets is indicative of our ownership’s commitment to the Nets and to the franchise’s future success. The new team will also serve as a proving ground for up-and-coming talent in all areas of our business.”
These addition put the NBA Developmental League at 22 teams for 2016-2017, and further expansion could happen in 2017-2018, as Southeastern teams are looking at adding teams in that part of the country. One we do know that’s in the running: Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, where the Orlando Magic is looking at setting up a D-League team. The Magic already have a D-League franchise in Erie, Pa., but a move to Florida would make sense, especially with other NBA teams — Miami, Atlanta and New Orleans — reportedly looking to launch teams in the Southeast, per the Florida Times-Union:
“Having our D-League team closer to Orlando would give us the best opportunity to continue to develop our young players, while also extending the Magic brand in our region,” Martins said.
Other cities invited to submit proposals: Daytona Beach (Ocean Center), Estero (Germain Arena), Fort Myers (Lee Civic Center), Kissimmee (Silver Spurs Arena), Lakeland (Lakeland Civic Center) and Orlando (ESPN Wide World of Sports HP Field House and UCF’s CFE Arena).
Martins said the Magic would make a final decision by late summer.