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Philips Arena renovations are next step in Hawks’ long-term plan

With a new practice facility and arena renovations on the horizon, the Hawks are looking toward the future

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NBA: Sacramento Kings at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

On November 1, the Atlanta Hawks announced plans to renovate Philips Area in partnership with the City of Atlanta. Arena renovations have been a topic of conversation for some time now, and today concrete details emerged. With this new deal, along with the ongoing construction for a new practice facility, the Hawks continue to plan for the future.

The new lease runs through 2046, securing the team’s long-term future with the city of Atlanta. There was no immediate danger that the Hawks would relocate, but these renovations confirm the city and franchise’s mutual commitment. After the Braves’ tenuous move to the suburbs, Atlanta is clearly placing a premium on its relationship with the Hawks and Falcons.

The renderings of the renovated arena are impressive. The price tag for these improvements (at just under $200 million) runs nowhere near the cost of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but the visual improvements to the Philips Arena experience look spectacular.

With a new practice facility under construction, and arena renovation plans in place, a D-League team seems like the next logical step for the franchise. The Hawks famously lack a D-League affiliate, which is surprising given the franchise’s focus on player development.

The D-League has expanded several times in recent years, but, at just 22 teams, still does not have an affiliate for every NBA team. You can find a full rundown of the D-League here, with a list of franchises who own their own affiliates (and those who have hybrid agreements).

The Hawks have placed a premium on acquiring a D-League team, but still do not have one. This hasn’t crippled their player development by any means, since NBA teams without an affiliate can still assign players to a team. However, since D-League teams usually copy the play styles and coaching decisions of their parent NBA teams, not having an affiliate is still a stumbling block to the Hawks’ development as a franchise.

With a new CBA supposedly on the horizon, the D-League could become even more important. Nobody knows for sure what details will emerge from talks between players and the league. However, the potential for added roster spots or unforeseen agreements could make the player development side of the league even more critical.

Since the season is already underway, a D-League announcement (if it comes) for Atlanta would most likely happen sometime next summer. The Hawks would most likely look to place the team close to Atlanta, and somewhere like Macon or Gwinnett would be the most likely option.

The Hawks undoubtedly want a D-League team, and the question appears to be one of “when,” instead of “if.” For now, though, the team will have to be content with assigning players to teams like the Austin Spurs. The practice facility and arena plans confirm that more changes should be on the way, though.

The Hawks are looking ahead, and the team is clearly doing everything it can to encourage future success. Atlanta should reap immediate benefits in the 2018-19 season when both the arena and practice facilities will be complete, and a D-League team — if one exists by that time — will be another step in the right direction.