The NBA’s Charlotte Hornets will join the NBA 2K League in 2020 as an expansion team, the league announced Wednesday.
Charlotte came extremely close to joining the league as a 2019 expansion team, per sources, but decided to hold back on its entry until 2020. Only eight NBA teams remain without an NBA 2K League franchise: the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder.
“We are excited to welcome Charlotte to the NBA 2K League as the first expansion team for our third season,” said NBA 2K League Managing Director Brendan Donohue. “With North Carolina’s rich basketball history and the Hornets organization’s commitment to innovation and fan engagement, we know they will be a great addition to the NBA 2K League family.”
“Hornets Sports & Entertainment is thrilled to bring the next professional sports league franchise to Charlotte,” said Hornets President & Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield. “The popularity and growth of esports both in the U.S. and internationally continues to rise at a tremendous rate. Our NBA 2K League affiliate will provide us with another opportunity to extend the HSE brand and reach a highly-coveted as well as hard to reach younger demographic of fans. We look forward to joining the NBA 2K League in 2020 and bringing the exciting, fast-paced and entertaining esports action to the fans of Charlotte.”
Four expansion teams joined the NBA 2K League for the 2019 season, which tipped off on April 2. T-Wolves Gaming (Minnesota Timberwolves), Lakers Gaming (Los Angeles Lakers), Hawks Talon GC (Atlanta Hawks) and Nets GC (Brooklyn Nets) all joined the league and will compete for the first time in the NBA 2K League TIPOFF Tournament from April 2-6. Brooklyn hosted the 2019 NBA 2K League entry draft at Barclays Center, in part due to their participation in the league for season two.
The league is expected to add at least two other expansion teams for the 2020 season. League Managing Director Brendan Donohue has reiterated that the league expects to have all 30 NBA franchises in the league within three years. The buy-in fee for each expansion team has historically been $750,000 per team, although the league has not announced the buy-in fee for 2020 expansion teams. Donohue has also stated that international expansion is “a matter of when, not if”; the league consequently held its first international tournament, the Asia-Pacific Invitational, in Hong Kong earlier this year.