The Pelicans, who will have their own newly-relocated G League affiliate for the 2021/22 season, announced today what the franchise will be called. As Christian Clark of NOLA.com details, the club will be known as the Birmingham Squadron. The Squadron’s logo can be viewed at the team’s website.
The nickname has ties to both the city of Birmingham and the club’s parent franchise — it’s an homage to Alabama’s military history, as well as the term for a flock of pelicans. The Squadron will play their home games at the Legacy Arena, which is currently undergoing a $123MM renovation. It’s expected to be ready to go by December.
The Pelicans have technically had a G League franchise since 2019/20, when they relaunched the Erie BayHawks as an NBAGL expansion team. However, the plan was always to move the club to Birmingham, far closer to the Pelicans’ home in New Orleans.
The two cities are separated by about a five-hour drive, which will make it easier to shuttle young players back and forth between the NBA and G League.
“We’ll be able to get guys in a car in the morning or the next day to be able to participate in a game or a practice,” Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon said, according to Clark. “It will get more reps for our younger players, which is incredibly important. If we are full strength in New Orleans, we can get a guy back to Birmingham for a game that night. It’s super exciting.”
With the Nuggets set to introduce the Grand Rapids Gold for the 2021/22 G League season, only two NBA teams – Portland and Phoenix – will be without their own affiliates. The Trail Blazers and Suns will be able to send players to another team’s G League affiliate during the season via the flexible assignment rule.