The list of contenders for a New Orleans Pelicans‘ NBA Gatorade League (G-League) franchise is down to six cities, the team announced on Tuesday.
In March, the Pelicans announced their intention to launch a G-League franchise for the 2018-19 season, and were requesting pitches from cities in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The initial list of potential home cities stood at 11, but dropped to six following the deadline to respond to the Pelicans’ request for proposal (RFP).
Among the list of candidates are three cities in Louisiana–Baton Rouge, Shreveport, and St. Tammany Parrish–along with Pensacola, FL; Mobile, AL; and Jackson, MS. Those that are not in the mix following the RFP response deadline include Biloxi/Gulfport, MS, as well the Louisiana cities of Monroe, Alexandria, Lake Charles, and Lafayette.
“We are excited to the see the excitement which this process has generated among the six locations,” Pelicans owner Tom Benson said in a statement. “All of them have stepped forward with legitimate and sincere interest and are going to make a case via their proposals for why they would like to be the home of our NBA G League team in 2018-2019. The process is underway and we know that this will be a very significant addition for a city/parish near us as it will add global exposure and bring professional basketball to their town.”
Regardless of where the franchise ends up, it will be within relatively close proximity of New Orleans, something that appears to be a goal for the Pelicans. More from The Advocate:
Coach Alvin Gentry said it also provides a significant boon to the coaching staff, allowing them to send young players back and forth to their affiliate, providing reserves an opportunity to log playing time without losing touch with the organization’s structure.
He pinpointed proximity as a primary benefit, and five of the six locations remaining are within a three-hour drive of New Orleans. Only Shreveport (326 miles away) is beyond that threshold.
“To have your own D-League team and be able to run it and basically have them run your same offense is important,” Gentry said. “When I was at Golden State (who operates the Santa Cruz Warriors), I thought that was one of the big advantages we had, because we had coaching and players within proximity of us and we could send someone down and bring them back in the day. So, to have those guys be able to run down and play and still come back and play with us, I think it’s really important.”
Formal bids are to be submitted to the Pelicans by June 7. The franchise will be owned by the Pelicans, who do not currently have an exclusive affiliate in the league. The G-League was known as the NBA Development League (D-League) through the 2016-17 season, but will assume its new name as the result of a partnership with Gatorade.
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