When it begins, the 2017-18 NBA Gatorade League (G League) will bring about several new developments for the circuit. Complete with a new name, new teams, and some new arenas, the G League is introducing some elements that will help shape the circuit for the coming season and beyond.
This season will be the league’s first with Gatorade as the title sponsor, as it struck an agreement that results in its branding being applied to the former NBA Development League.
The G League, however, has more than a new name in store for the upcoming season. Thanks to expansion, the G League is welcoming four additional teams: The Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, Memphis Hustle, Wisconsin Herd, and a new version of the Erie BayHawks. Of those teams, the Milwaukee Bucks-owned Herd will be the only one that is moving into a new arena—Menominee Nation Arena in Oshkosh—with the others arriving in previously-established venues. The Memphis Grizzlies-owned Hustle will play at the Landers Center in Southaven, MS, while the Clippers will play at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
In the case of the BayHawks, they will take the place of a previous incarnation of the BayHawks that was purchased by the Orlando Magic and relocated to Lakeland, FL. Owned by the Atlanta Hawks, the new BayHawks are expected to play the next two seasons at Erie Insurance Arena before relocating to a new facility in College Park, GA. The previous BayHawks, meanwhile, are now known as the Lakeland Magic, and will debut this season at a newly-renovated RP Funding Center.
The additional teams bring the league’s total to 26. Among the returning clubs, there have been some notable shifts, with ownership and arena changes having taken place. The South Bay Lakers—previously the Los Angeles D-Fenders—will play their first season at UCLA Health Training Center, a 750-seat training center for the Los Angeles Lakers in El Segundo. On the east coast, the Long Island Nets will play their first season at a newly-renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum after spending the 2016-17 campaign at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
The Minnesota Timberwolves completed their purchase of the Iowa Energy—previously an affiliate of the Grizzlies—and rebranded the club as the Iowa Wolves for the 2017-18 season. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat have purchased the controlling interest in the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
With an increased number of teams, the G League is seeing a few other changes. The playoff format will expand from eight teams to twelve, and just four NBA teams—the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Portland Trail Blazers, and Washington Wizards—will be left without a G League affiliate for the 2017-18 season.
On that front, the G League can expect more changes in the coming years. The Wizards are already slated to debut a new G League franchise in 2018—with the team playing its home games at the upcoming St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington—and the Pelicans have also been working to establish an affiliate.
Whether the G League is able to complete its march toward 30 teams remains to be seen, but the 2017-18 season certainly represents some changes for the league. The regular season will begin on November 3, and runs through March 24.
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