The NBA 2K League’s management of regular season and tournament schedules with an odd number of franchises will continue through its second season, albeit with four more teams than it had to account for here in 2018.
The league announced on Wednesday that the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves will all field 2k League teams in 2019, adding to the 17 existing franchises which will return for the league’s second season.
“Welcoming these four world-class organizations and their passionate fanbases to the NBA 2K League is an exciting moment not only for the league, but for the entire 2K community,” said NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue in a press release. “From their innovative spirit to their global reach, we know each of these teams will be a tremendous addition, and we are thrilled that this growth offers the opportunity for new players, coaches and support staff to join the league.”
Beyond the fact that these four franchises will bring the league’s total to 21 for 2019, everything else is currently unknown. It has yet to be announced what the new 2k League teams will be named, although it’s likely that they will follow the trend established by existing franchises and feature names which are plays on the corresponding NBA franchises’ names.
It’s also currently unknown what exactly will become of the current 102 players who are on existing teams’ rosters once this inaugural season comes to a close. Their contracts only run through the end of this season. Whether they will become free agents or have to work their way back through the qualification structure to become draft-eligible again is currently a question for the populace at large. With four more franchises in the mix for 2019, expanding the player pool to 126, that competition will become more stiff if that ends up being the case.
For the league, however, that would be the best course of action. It will ensure that the best 126 players in the world end up on teams’ rosters as well as continue to raise the league’s profile as thousands of 2k players around the world take their best shots at qualification for another year.
The last question is how much longer it will be until the remaining nine NBA franchises (the Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs) will get on board.
That will largely depend on whether the ownership of those franchises see the original 17 and four expansion franchises enjoy a return on their investments. The visibility of such will depend on increased Twitch viewership, acquisitions of new sponsorships and sales of merchandise. Expanding the league to four new markets should help those numbers.