ERIE, Pa. -- The future of professional basketball in Erie is in serious jeopardy.
According to a news release from the Erie BayHawks, the Orlando Magic have agreed to purchase the BayHawks and relocate the team to Lakeland, Fla., to begin play during the 2017-18 season.
The move will leave Erie without an NBA partner to place a team in Erie for next season.
A statement from the BayHawks said, “as Erie natives, we are committed to trying to find another NBA partner to place a team in Erie starting for the 2017-18 season. We are optimistic as conversations with new potential NBA partners are happening and will know more in the near future. With respect to the process that the NBA is conducting, we are not at liberty to discuss any specifics at this time.”
The BayHawks will continue to play the rest of the current season, according to the news release.
“Today's announcement not only shows the continued growth of the NBA D-League but also enables the Magic to develop players close to home and provides fans in Central Florida the opportunity to watch top NBA prospects compete,” said NBA D-League President Malcolm Turner on NBA.com. “I’m thrilled to welcome the Magic as NBA D-League owners, and I want to thank Steve Demetriou and Owen McCormick for their leadership in Erie.”
The Orlando Magic and the BayHawks recently began the final year of a three-year, single-affiliation hybrid partnership wherein the Magic control the basketball operations and local ownership manages business operations.