OCTOBER 24: In their press release officially announcing their new G League affiliate, the Pelicans indicate that the club isn’t expected to begin play in Birmingham until 2022/23, meaning it will spend three seasons in Erie.
OCTOBER 23: The Pelicans will launch a G League affiliate that will begin play in the 2019/20 season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski, the new G League franchise will eventually play in Birmingham, Alabama, but will start in Erie, Pennsylvania, while arena renovations are completed in Birmingham.
Rumors of a potential G League affiliate for the Pelicans have persisted for multiple years now. Back in March 2017, we heard that New Orleans was expected to have an NBAGL team of its own in place for the 2018/19 season, but the club took longer than anticipated to finalize the location and the details.
Later in 2017, the Pelicans were said to be leaning toward Shreveport, Louisiana or Pensacola, Florida as the eventual home of their G League team, having apparently ruled out various cities in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. However, Alabama will be the home of the new franchise after all, once Birmingham’s arena is ready to go.
Currently, Erie is home to the BayHawks, Atlanta’s G League affiliate. The Hawks, who took over the Erie squad in 2017/18, are spending one more year in Pennsylvania while work on their new G League arena in College Park, Georgia is completed. When the Hawks’ affiliate moves out of Erie at the end of the 2018/19 campaign, the Pelicans’ new expansion affiliate will be ready to move in.
[RELATED: NBA G League Affiliations For 2018/19 Season]
The Pelicans will become the 28th of 30 NBA teams with their own NBAGL affiliate. The Nuggets and Trail Blazers are the only other NBA clubs without G League teams of their own, though ESPN’s Jonathan Givony suggests (via Twitter) that the Nuggets may also look to have an affiliate in place for the 2019/20 season, perhaps in the northwest suburbs of Denver. If that happens, Portland would be the lone holdout.