The NBA intends to “move quickly” toward establishing an NBA G League franchise in Mexico City, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links). According to Stein, the NBA wants to get a team up and running as soon as it’s feasible, which could happen as early as next season.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of the NBA’s interest in an expansion G League franchise in Mexico City. Last month, when Jonathan Givony of ESPN reported that the league was set to announce the opening of a basketball academy in Mexico, he noted that Mexico City was a candidate to emerge as the location for a G League franchise.
Although not all of the NBA’s 30 teams have G League affiliates of their own yet, a G League franchise in Mexico City is unlikely to be affiliated with any specific NBA team, per Stein’s full report on the plan. Stein indicates the club would be owned and operated locally, while Givony’s report last month suggested that top prospects from the NBA’s training academies could graduate to that G League team in Mexico.
For now, 26 NBA teams either own and operate their own G League teams or have a direct affiliation with a G League squad. The Wizards and Pelicans are good bets to join that group next season, with the Trail Blazers and Nuggets looming as the potential final two holdouts.
If the NBA installs a G League franchise in Mexico City and it thrives, it could be the first step toward eventually establishing an NBA franchise in the largest market in Latin America. As Stein notes, the league isn’t currently looking to expand or to relocate any of its teams, but commissioner Adam Silver views Mexico City as a logical candidate for a franchise in the event of relocation or expansion. A G League team could help generate more interest in basketball in Mexico, helping to pave the way for an eventual NBA franchise.