The D-League will expand for the 2016/17 season to include a one-to-one affiliate for the Hornets in Greensboro, North Carolina, the D-League and the Hornets jointly announced today via press release and in a press conference. The news is no surprise, as Jeff Mills of the Greensboro News & Record reported this weekend that Greensboro would be the location for the D-League club, and the Hornets had targeted 2016/17 as their timetable for partnering with a D-League team. Charlotte is one of 11 NBA teams without a D-League affiliate this season.
“This is an important step for our franchise,” Hornets owner Michael Jordan said in the team’s statement. “Having our own team will allow us to use the NBA D-League in a more efficient and worthwhile way. By operating our own club, it will be a seamless transition for our players, coaches and front office when we assign a player because the NBA D-League team will follow the same principles and run the same sets as the Hornets. Placing the team in Greensboro also allows us to expand the Hornets’ brand to another city in our region that has a great basketball tradition.”
Charlotte used the D-League sparingly last season, making only two assignments. They signed D-Leaguer Elliot Williams to a 10-day contract in February, but otherwise, the Hornets had no other D-League ties as they shared the Fort Wayne Mad Ants with a dozen other NBA franchises.
The new Hornets affiliate will be the 20th D-League team, though a decent chance exists that the league will add more before the start of 2016/17, since several other NBA teams have expressed a desire to have one-to-one affiliates. The Hornets will run both the business and basketball operations for the club, becoming the 11th NBA franchise to own a D-League team outright.