In a seismic franchise move, the Portland Trail Blazers will own and operate a G League team based in Portland starting with the 2023-24 season, the team announced today. The new G League affiliate will play its home games at the University of Portland’s Chiles Center and hold practices at the Blazers’ practice facility.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN first broke the news, writing the Blazers were “fast-tracking” the process so the new team could be ready by next season.
New G League affiliates typically take 18-24 months to get up and running, but owner Jody Allen wants to help the franchise’s front office prioritize player development and Blazers GM Joe Cronin will work to speed up the process and have a team for the coming season. Portland has two first-round picks and a second-rounder in the 2023 NBA draft.
In the press release issued by the Blazers, General Manager Joe Cronin spoke about how the new G League team will greatly serve player development.
“It was very important to our organization to enter the G League with an affiliate here in Portland and strategically strengthen our dedication to player development,” said Joe Cronin, Portland Trail Blazers General Manager. “I would especially like to thank [Blazers owner] Jody Allen, who is aligned with [Trail Blazers President] Dewayne Hankins and myself, to make it a priority to have this team ready for next season as it will serve not only as a developmental tool for players but also for aspiring coaches and staff while we continue to be a mainstay in the community as a whole.”
Trail Blazers President Dewayne Hankins agreed the new team will help with player development, but will also develop the Blazers’ business operations and strengthen the franchise’s relationship with the community. The Chiles Center, located in North Portland, opened in 1984 and holds a capacity of 4,852 seats.
“Entering the G League with a team of our own will increase development in numerous areas,” said Dewayne Hankins, Portland Trail Blazers President of Business Operations. “Not only will this team be an asset for developing young talent on the court, but developing talent off the court as well. We’ll be leaning into an innovative approach that will improve all aspects of our business across both teams. With the team launching at the University of Portland, we’re excited to continue engaging with the North Portland community.”
NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim welcomed the Blazers to the G League with this statement:
“I’m excited to welcome Jody Allen and the Trail Blazers ownership group to the NBA G League family,” said NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim. “The NBA G League continues to grow to meet the developmental demands of NBA teams, and today’s announcement is further proof of the value the league provides to the NBA every day. I can’t wait to watch the team tip off at the Chiles Center next season.”
According to the press release, the name and brand identity of the team will be announced at a later date, as well as the front office and coaching staff.
The move gives Portland a G League affiliate for the first time since the franchise had a single-affiliation partnership with the Idaho Stampede that lasted two seasons from 2012 to 2014. That “hybrid” partnership gave Portland control of basketball operations while a separate ownership group of the Stampede controlled the business side. After Portland’s relationship with the Stampede ended, the franchise out-sourced developmental players to rival G League franchises, including the Kings’ affiliate in Stockton and the Clippers’ affiliate in Ontario.
With Portland’s announcement, now the Phoenix Suns remain the only NBA team without an affiliation to a G League team.
The NBA G League, formerly known as the D-League, is the NBA’s official minor league used to develop players, coaches, trainers and front office staff. The league began in the 2001-02 season with just eight teams. Portland’s new affiliate will put the league at 31 teams next season.
Each G League team plays a 50-game schedule starting in November. Fans interested in season or single-game tickets, team news, and anything else related to the new team can visit www.ripcitygleague.com for more information.