The Erie BayHawks of the NBA G League won’t return for the 2021-22 season, announcing Thursday in a press release that they’ll cease operations in the coming weeks.
Technically, the franchise now known as the Erie BayHawks will be relocated by the Pelicans for the ’21-22 season to Birmingham, Ala., where it will be rebranded.
That has happened to two iterations of the BayHawks in the past. The original team became the Lakeland Magic in 2017, and the second version became the College Park Skyhawks in 2019. In each instance, an expansion team – also known as the BayHawks – continued to play in Erie, having established a new NBA affiliation.
However, the Pelicans turned down their 2021-22 option with Erie as they prepare to move their G League operations to Birmingham. As a result, the BayHawks don’t have an NBA partner lined up for next season, resulting in the decision to halt operations.
“We’ve made the determination that we will cease operations in the coming weeks due to not being unable to find another NBA partner, or other adequate opportunity, to keep G League basketball in Erie,” Erie Basketball Management president Owen McCormick said in a statement. “This result is merely a reflection of the changing landscape of the NBA as many teams prefer their G League affiliate be located nearby, and Erie simply is not positioned geographically to provide that.
“While we’re saddened by this for our fans and the Erie community, we are deeply appreciative of the tremendous support the BayHawks received over the past 13 years. The Erie region can be proud of the history the BayHawks made and the role that Erie played for the NBA during our years in the NBA Development League and NBA G League. We are truly grateful for the community’s amazing support and the fond memories made.”
Currently, the Suns and Trail Blazers are the only two NBA teams that don’t have G League affiliates in place for the 2021-22 campaign. While it’s possible the BayHawks explored a partnership with one of those teams, neither Phoenix nor Portland is located anywhere close to Erie, Penn., so it wouldn’t have made for a convenient arrangement.
The BayHawks first entered the G League in 2008. Over the years, the team served as the NBAGL affiliate for the Cavaliers, Sixers, Raptors, Knicks, Magic, Hawks and Pelicans. The Wizards also used Erie as its affiliate during the 2020-21 season, sharing operating costs with the Pels.