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Magic to purchase NBA D-League’s BayHawks, move team to Lakeland

The new team, which is unnamed, will begin play in 2017/18.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Orlando Magic Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic announced Wednesday they have reached an agreement to purchase the Erie BayHawks, their NBA D-League affiliate, and relocate the team to Lakeland. The team will hold its home games at Lakeland Center and is scheduled to begin play in the 2017/18 season.

“Having our D-League team in Lakeland gives us the best opportunity, not only to continue developing our young players, but to extend the Orlando Magic brand across Central Florida,” said Alex Martins, the Magic’s CEO and a managing partner in the new D-League squad, in a statement.

Orlando entered a three-year hybrid agreement with the BayHawks prior to the 2014/15 season. In this arrangement, the Magic controlled all aspects of the BayHawks’ basketball operations, but did not own the team. Though managing Ere’s basketball operations was certainly a boon for the Magic, insofar as it enabled them to scout, train, and develop players in a manner consistent with their big-league club, the distance between Erie and Orlando complicated that process. Having a D-League team less than a two-hour drive away from the parent club will make it significantly easier for the Magic to shuttle prospects back and forth as the team’s needs dictate.

During the hybrid agreement, the Magic assigned to Erie two prospects: Devyn Marble and Stephen Zimmerman.

The Magic have named Shelly Wilkes the president of their D-League team. Martins and Steve Demetriou have come aboard as minority partners in the ownership group. Wilkes has been with the Magic since 2004 and is presently the team’s senior director of event presentation, broadcast production, and creative services.

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