A new NBA D-League franchise could be on the horizon sooner rather than later. Hornets Sports and Entertainment, ownership group of the Charlotte Hornets and Time Warner Cable Arena, announced on May 4 that they intend to launch their own D-League affiliate team that will be operated solely by the Hornets organization. The Hornets sent RFPs to seven cities within the Carolinas trying to find a suitable home for the new club. The cities under consideration include Asheville, Fayetteville, Greensboro, and Raleigh, North Carolina, as well as Columbia and Greenville, South Carolina. HSE hopes to have the D-League club established and ready to play by the 2016-2017 season.
Previously, the Charlotte Hornets were one of 13 teams affiliated with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, who are an independent D-League team. The other 17 teams have a single NBA affiliate. Eight of them are fully owned and operated by the NBA parent team, while another eight have a hybrid situation which the parent team funds and manages basketball operation and the local ownership handles the business aspects. The only special case is the Texas Legends. The general manager of the Dallas Mavericks owns the Texas Legends, and he has a one-to-one relationship with Mark Cuban, the owner of the Mavericks.
With the Charlotte Hornets starting their own D-League team, it allows them to develop their own young players in the same offensive and defensive schemes that they will use at the NBA level. Drafted players will have more playing time, an easier transition, and be more equipped to contribute once they reach the NBA.
This helps the Fort Wayne Mad Ants as well. Their roster will not be as crowded and disjointed as it was in the past, and it will help the Mad Ants’ chemistry if they do not have as many new players coming in.
By Joshua Hamer