The NBA G League will have a franchise based in Mexico City beginning in 2020/21, the league announced on Thursday night in a press release. According to the NBA’s announcement, the professional team Capitanes, which is currently part of Mexico’s Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional (LNBP), will join the G League next season, making it the 29th NBAGL franchise.
“Bringing an NBA G League team to Mexico City is a historic milestone for the NBA which demonstrates our commitment to basketball fans in Mexico and across Latin America,” commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “As the first G League franchise based outside of the U.S. and Canada, we look forward to welcoming Capitanes to the NBA family.”
An expansion G League franchise can take some time to establish. For instance, the Pelicans‘ new NBAGL team, announced in October 2018, won’t relocate to Birmingham, Alabama until 2022/23 and is playing in Erie in the interim. By bringing aboard a franchise like Capitanes that has an existing infrastructure – including a home arena and an ownership group – the NBA will be able to expedite the process, allowing the team to make the transition to the G League next fall.
Capitanes will continue to play its home games at Gimnasio Juan de la Barrera, an arena that holds about 5,000 fans, and will spend at least the next five years in the G League. Unlike the G League’s other 28 teams, Capitanes won’t be affiliated with a specific NBA franchise, per Eric Gomez of ESPN. It’s unclear if it will still be an option for players on assignment from the Trail Blazers or Nuggets, the two NBA teams without NBAGL affiliates.
“The assumption is Portland and Denver will be adding teams over time,” Silver said on Thursday.
The news of the G League expanding to Mexico City comes almost exactly a year after Silver indicated that he was optimistic about establishing an NBAGL team in Mexico. At the time, the NBA commissioner said he was confident that the league would be “planting its flag in Mexico” soon.