The Atlanta Hawks officially announced an expansion D-League franchise that will begin play in the 2019-20 season. The team will be based in College Park and will compete in a brand new, 3,500 seat arena that will be built at the Gateway Center.
“Securing a D-League team for the Atlanta Hawks was among our top priorities when our ownership group took over the team,” said Tony Ressler, Atlanta Hawks Principal Owner and Chairman. “Coach Bud and Wes Wilcox would agree that having a local D-League franchise will play a significant role in building a championship-caliber team by helping us develop players, like the six now on our roster who have D-League experience. We would like to thank the City of College Park for becoming the host city of what will be another exciting part of our community and the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club.”
Mike Budenholzer talked about how location was key to a D-League franchise and described how players might practice with the Hawks in the morning and play for the D-League team at night. Having them at such a close proximity will allow the franchise complete flexibility with the development of its roster.
“We are excited to have our affiliate based in College Park. The close proximity will allow us to maximize our relationship and have the highest level of synergy possible while providing a great place to develop future Hawks draft picks and players. Player development is at the core of our basketball program and our affiliate will be a critical component in that process,” President of Basketball Operations/Head Coach Mike Budenholzer said. “With Wes, Darvin, Taylor and our players, we have seen firsthand the positive impact the league can have in preparing players, front office staff and coaches for meaningful roles in the NBA.”
With the announcement, the Hawks become the 16th NBA team to own and operate a NBA Development League affiliate. The D-League is now made up of 23 teams.
“Today’s an exciting day in the NBA D-League as we welcome the Hawks and the City of College Park to our growing family,” said NBA D-League President Malcolm Turner. “With the addition of the Hawks to our ownership ranks, more than half of NBA teams now own and operate their NBA D-League affiliate – an important step toward our goal of having a 30-team minor league.”
CEO Steve Koonin indicated that they have some ideas for a team name for the D-League affiliate but that they would hold off until a later time before revealing that.