The NBA Development League and the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club announced today that the Hawks’ new NBA D-League team intends to play in Erie, Pennsylvania, for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. The team will permanently relocate to a newly constructed arena in College Park, Georgia, prior to the 2019-20 season. It was previously announced that Atlanta’s NBA D-League affiliate would make its debut in 2019-20 in College Park.
Atlanta’s NBA D-League affiliate would represent the record 24th NBA D-League team scheduled to play for the 2017-18 season.
The team plans to play the next two seasons at Erie Insurance Arena, as the Erie BayHawks, giving Atlanta an earlier start with its goal of developing young talent while keeping NBA D-League basketball in the Erie community. The Atlanta Hawks will partner with the BayHawks’ current management team in Erie, led by Owen McCormick and Matt Bresee.
The Orlando Magic, which has agreed to acquire the current Erie BayHawks franchise, announced in December that the team intends to relocate to Lakeland, Florida. The team will be renamed and rebranded for next season.
“I’m thrilled that the Atlanta Hawks have been able to accelerate their minor league team’s entry into the NBA D-League by playing in Erie while their new home in College Park is being constructed,” said NBA D-League President Malcolm Turner. “This is a one-of-a-kind partnership in the NBA D-League, and I’m looking forward to watching the Hawks begin their tenure in the NBA D-League in Erie, which has proved to be a terrific NBA D-League market over the last decade.”
“Since becoming owners of the Atlanta Hawks, securing a D-League team has been one of our group’s top priorities – along with the implementation of a large-scale renovation and upgrade to Philips Arena and construction of a new, world-class practice facility, which were previously announced,” said Atlanta Hawks Principal Owner and Chairman Tony Ressler. “This opportunity to start two years sooner is even better news for both Erie and Atlanta and we are excited to get a head start on Coach Bud and Wes Wilcox’s efforts to develop players as they work to build a championship-caliber team. We would like to thank the BayHawks’ management team for working with our Club and the City of College Park, as it constructs a new facility, as well as the NBA D-League for assisting us in our efforts.”
During the team’s two-year period in Pennsylvania, the Erie BayHawks management team, College Park officials and the Atlanta Hawks will work together on operational and construction matters and collaborate to ensure that both communities benefit from this agreement.
“It’s great news that the Atlanta Hawks will begin managing their NBA D-League team in Erie, Pennsylvania, this upcoming season,” said College Park Mayor Jack P. Longino. “I appreciate the Hawks’ proactive approach and look forward to a seamless transition when the team makes our new College Park arena its home in 2019.”
“We’re thrilled to keep an NBA Development League team in Erie and are looking forward to working with the Atlanta Hawks for what will be the 10th season of BayHawks basketball in 2017-18,” said McCormick, owner of Erie Basketball Management, the group set to manage the day-to-day business operations of the team in Erie.
Six current Hawks have NBA D-League experience, including starters Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schröder, while assistant coaches Darvin Ham and Taylor Jenkins both began their coaching careers on NBA D-League benches. Additionally, Hawks General Manager Wes Wilcox was the inaugural general manager of the NBA D-League’s Canton Charge. The Hawks have assigned three players to the NBA D-League this season.