The Hawks will purchase and operate their own NBA Development League team located in College Park, according to a person familiar with the situation. The team, with a new arena built by the City of College Park, will begin play for the 2019-20 season.
The Hawks and the City of College Park have scheduled a “major announcement” Thursday afternoon to unveil the plans. While College Park will build and operate the arena, the Hawks’ affiliate will be the primary tenant. Hawks co-owner Grant Hill, CEO Steve Koonin and president of basketball operations and head coach Mike Budenholzer will attend the news conference.
College Park was one of the locations the Hawks explored for their new practice facility, which will be built in Brookhaven and open next October.
The D-League currently consists of 22 teams, all affiliated with NBA teams.The Hornets, Bulls and Nets all have D-League affiliates that began play this season. The Hawks are one of eight teams not affiliated with a franchise. The others are the Clippers, Pelicans, Bucks, Wizards, Timberwolves, Nuggets and Trail Blazers. The Hawks can and have assigned players to the D-League via the flexible assignment rule.
A D-League team has been a priority for the organization since the ownership group led by Tony Ressler purchased the team. An affiliate would give the Hawks a much greater ability to keep players in their development system and control playing time. The Hawks have often sent players to Austin, the Spurs affiliate, that runs a similar system. With their own D-League team they could play in a system that even more closely resembles their own.