The NBA is closing the G League Ignite team after this season, canceling the development team of elite draft prospects and veterans that was launched in 2020, sources briefed on the matter said. The Athletics Thursday, a decision that was confirmed by the league later in the day.

The NBA launched the Ignite at a point where no other American professional league offered the ability to significantly compensate pre-draft eligible players to play before entering the draft. With the rise of name, image and likeness (NIL) and the transfer portal in college basketball, the need for the Ignite elite team was eliminated. Now NIL allows players to earn money while attending college and gaining NCAA experience.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver had said last month during All-Star Weekend that Ignite’s future was being reassessed.

“I’m not sure what the future of Team Ignite will be because previously I felt there was a gap in the market that we were filling,” Silver said. “Now my focus is on the earlier development of those players.”

The league’s first two signings – Jalen Green from the Houston Rockets and Jonathan Kuminga from the Golden State Warriors, the No. 2 and No. 7 picks respectively in the 2021 NBA Draft – represent tremendous success stories and a testament to achievement for the four players of the Ignite. -year run. Last year, Scoot Henderson was taken No. 3 overall to Portland after a standout Ignite season. Salaries for elite prospects are believed to have been as high as $1 million per season, such as Henderson’s deal in 2022-2023.

Since 2020, the Ignite has produced more than ten draft selections, including four top-10 picks. G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim oversaw the Ignite’s roster and coaching staff, hiring respected former NBA players and coaches in Brian Shaw and Jason Hart as the program’s head coaches for four years.

The Ignite has struggled this season with a 6-40 record, although prospects Matas Buzelis and Ron Holland are expected to be June’s lottery picks. Ignite’s final match is scheduled for March 28.

“Four years ago, we started Ignite to fill a void in the basketball landscape, and I’m proud of the contributions we’ve been able to make to that ecosystem,” Abdur-Rahim said in a statement. “With the changing environment in youth and collegiate basketball, now is the right time to make this move. I would like to express my sincere thanks to general manager Anthony McClish, head coach Jason Hart and their staff and to every player who wore an Ignite jersey. As always, the G League’s commitment to developing top NBA talent and helping players achieve their NBA dreams is unwavering.”

(Top photo of Ron Holland, London Johnson and Eric Mika: Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

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