As of today, my top 5 contenders to move to Vancouver are:
- New Orleans Hornets.For obvious reasons – they’re owned by the NBA, they
have an old arena, and the market is not supporting them.
- Sacramento Kings. All the buzz has been the Kings moving to Anaheim, possibly as early as next year. I rank them 2nd because they will almost certainly be moving and there are real challenges with their preferred target of Anaheim (not the least of which is encroaching on the territory of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers).
- Charlotte Bobcats. Poor arena, terrible local support in the market, and I would say somewhat questionable ownership. Is Michael Jordan really rich enough, and committed enough, to stick with this for the long haul? Or might he be tempted by the opportunity to cash out?
- Milwaukee Bucks. Another old arena, in a smaller market. I’ve heard nothing imminent on this one, but the long-term stagnation of northern cities like Milwaukee, compared to the upward trajectory of dynamic global markets like Vancouver, means the business case for staying in Milwaukee is likely to get worse and worse over time.
- Indiana Pacers. In some ways, this one is really hard to imagine given the cultural importance of basketball in the Hoosier State. They also have what is widely considered one of the best new buildings in the league in Conseco Fieldhouse. But the challenge is, once again, lack of local support. Over the long term, NBA franchises should migrate to the markets where they will be most profitable. And as good as Vancouver looks now compared to 10 years ago, it’s going to look even better in another 10 years.