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NBA G League Landscape Continues to Evolve

By Kyle Brown | August 11, 2021

The Windy City Bulls haven’t played a game in roughly a year-and-a-half due to COVID-19 and the layout of the NBA G League looks significantly different since the Bulls’ last took the floor on March 10, 2020.

The Birmingham Squadron, affiliated with the New Orleans Pelicans, relocated from Erie, Pennsylvania and will be the first professional basketball team in Birmingham, Alabama in over 15 years.

The name Squadron is “defined as a group that works together with a shared mission,” according to a G League press release announcing the team. The name also refers to a flock of Pelicans.

After relocating to Cleveland from Canton, roughly an hour north in Ohio, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ G League affiliate changed their name to the Cleveland Charge, paying homage to the franchise that has been in existence since 1970.

Formerly an affiliate with the Detroit Pistons, the Grand Rapids Drive rebranded to become the Grand Rapids Gold and be more closely aligned with the Denver Nuggets, the franchise’s new affiliate.

The Detroit Pistons purchased the former Northern Arizona franchise from the Phoenix Suns and relocated it to Detroit where the newly named Motor City Cruise will make their debut as the Pistons’ new affiliate playing in a brand new arena that the organization will share with Wayne State University.

The Maine Red Claws are now the Maine Celtics, tying the franchise closer to its NBA parent who purchased the team two years ago. The iconic Maine lobster logo and mascot will remain, but with a green color rather than red.

Finally, the Mexico City Capitanes will become the NBA G League’s 30th franchise when it begins playing in the league following a successful membership in the Mexican-based Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional.