There have been rumors about an NBA team moving to Las Vegas for at least five years. Those rumors are fueled again with talks of a deal being in place if Las Vegas builds a new arena for a team.
“We have an NBA team under contract,” Milam (Chris Milam, CEO of International Development Management LLC) said, declining to name the franchise. But the deal will take effect only if “other pieces of the puzzle fall into place: One of those pieces will be that a building (arena) is approved,” he said.
SB Nation looks at which team may be on the move.
Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are mentioned specifically in the article because Karen Davidson, the widow of the long-time owner Bill Davidson, has said the team is for sale. Detroit’s economy, of course, is getting killed, and that, combined with the team’s increased struggles, has caused the Palace of Auburn Hills to be sparsely populated, even though it’s outside of the city. Odds: 3-1
New Orleans Hornets: The Hornets’ money problems are no secret, and they just fired the very competent Jeff Bower as their GM. Oh, and they might trade away their best asset in Chris Paul. Also, they’re probably for sale, though you never know with George Shinn. Odds: 3-1
Sacramento Kings: The Kings appear to have stabilized themselves a bit more financially thanks to the addition of Tyreke Evans, but considering the Maloof brothers’ connection to Las Vegas and the Palms, as well as their own struggles trying to build a new arena in Sacramento, they are always a candidate. Odds: 6-1.
Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies’ lease in Memphis runs through the 2020/21 season, but consider that this is the same team that a) is squabbling with first-round pick Xavier Henry over paying him 120-percent of the mandatory rookie scale contract, and b) freaked out and signed Rudy Gay to a max contract right away because they were worried about having to match a contract for the same amount of money long-term, except frontloaded where Gay would make more in Year 1. They’re a bit frugal with money, to put it nicely. Anyway, it’s going to take time for Las Vegas to build this arena, so by then, we’ll be closer to the end of their lease in Memphis. Odds: 12-1.
Indiana Pacers: Yes, they’re playing in the basketball mecca of Indiana. But have you seen those crowds? Also, long-time owner Herb Simon passed away this year, so there’s at least a little bit of an ownership gap. Odds: 15-1.
Minnesota Timberwolves: They’re off the radar, but their arena is pretty old and their team is probably going to be terrible for a long time. Remember: this Las Vegas team is probably going to be a long-term idea, and in three years, if Ricky Rubio doesn’t come over, what kind of assets do the Timberwolves have? Odds: 30-1.
Miami Heat: Because LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will get hurt, and the fans will stop supporting them. Odds: 1,000,000-1.
The rumor with the most legs seems to be the Sacramento Kings being sold by the Maloof’s, who own the Palms, and having the team then moved to Las Vegas. With Palms having financial troubles, this would give the Maloof’s a way to get money to take care of some of the financial problems and keep the casino safe and under their ownership.
This would also make fans of the Palms (like me) happy as it would remain in the hands of the people that made it such a great place to visit.
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