Charleston a candidate for Hornets’ D-League team

Charleston is one of seven cities under consideration as the home for the Charlotte Hornets’ new NBA D-League team, the franchise announced Monday.

The Hornets have sent request for proposals to Asheville, Fayetteville, Greensboro and Raleigh in North Carolina and to Charleston, Columbia and Greenville in South Carolina. The D-League franchise would begin play in 2016-17. Dave Holscher, general manager of the North Charleston Coliseum, said he has yet to receive the request from the Hornets.

“This is a very exciting time for us,” said Fred Whitfield, Hornets Sports & Entertainment’s president. “The decision to take steps toward launching our own D-League club is yet another example of our owner’s long-term commitment to our franchise and continues to show his willingness to invest in the resources needed to improve our basketball team. A D-League team would also allow us to continue to expand the Hornets brand regionally by having a presence in an additional market.”

Currently in the D-League, 17 of 18 teams have single-affiliate relationships with NBA teams, and eight are fully owned and operated by their NBA parent team. According to the Hornets, an additional eight are operated under a “hybrid” affiliation, in which the NBA team funds and manages the basketball operations while local ownership maintains control of the business aspects.

The Hornets are currently one of 13 NBA teams affiliated with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the lone independent D-League team.

“Having our own D-League team would provide us with the best opportunity to develop our young players, which is paramount in today’s NBA,” said Hornets general manager Rich Cho. “This move would allow us to dictate how the team is run, including using the same offensive and defensive sets, play calls and philosophies as the Hornets do. It would also provide for a seamless and easy transition when moving players between our team and the D-League affiliate.”

The North Charleston Lowgators played in the D-League at the North Charleston Coliseum from 2001-04. The Lowgators averaged a league-worst 1,294 fans per game in 2003-04 before the franchise was moved to Florida.