Where Will The NBA Move Next?
Since 2001, the NBA has had more franchises move (four) than the National Football League, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball combined (two). Sacramento battled the league and paid a huge sum just to keep its Kings from leaving for Seattle, which just lost its own team five years earlier. That fight likely won't stop other teams from considering Seattle and other locations in the near future.
The Charlotte Bobcats have struggled since entering the league in 2004 and their predecessor, the original Charlotte Hornets (the Bobcats may retake the name), moved to New Orleans in 2002. The Atlanta Hawks averaged just 15,000 fans per home game last season, good for fifth worst in the league. The Hawks' former roommates, the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers, left for Winnipeg more than a year ago. The Detroit Pistons would love to average 15,000 fans. Just under 14,800 fans came out to the Palace at Auburn Hills each night last season to see a declining team that only two years ago had to borrow cash just to stay solvent. While Detroit's Red Wings get a new downtown arena, the Pistons just get increasingly sad.
No NBA owner has made noise about moving yet, but the number of franchises with their future in flux indicates it's only a matter of time until the moving boxes come out again. There are already a handful of cities that have expressed interest and would be more than willing to accept a wayward team. With the NBA regular season upon us, here are five towns that might host opening night festivities in years to come: