Warning: Contains NBA conspiracies concerning New Orleans,
Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and the Miami Heat.
The NBA has taken operational control of the New Orleans Hornets. What does this mean? Well, a lot of things.
First and foremost, it means the league can now move the team wherever it pleases. One alternative to contraction is to move a team out of smaller market (like New Orleans) into a bigger market that will produce more money. Moving the Hornets would help solve a lot of David Stern’s problems right now.
If you want more info on the New Orleans takeover and why relocation is a big possibility, check out this article I wrote for Slam Dunk Central. But that’s not the purpose of this post. I am writing this to share my conspiracy theories about what the NBA is planning now that it controls an NBA team.
Sorry, New Orleans, but I think a move is inevitable. Not enough revenue, not enough fans, and not enough general interest to keep a team in your town when other U.S. cities would sacrifice a limb if they had one to get an NBA team. I think a new city would be beneficial to the league as a whole. Look what the Thunder have done in their short time in OKC. A new team with at least one All-Star player (more on that later) can create a lot of new NBA interest.
So to begin, where would the Hornets move to? The way I see it, David Stern and the NBA have five potential options: Kansas City, Las Vegas, San Diego, Anaheim, and Seattle. Here’s my ranking of their probability of landing the Hornets, from least to greatest, along with possible new team nicknames:
5. Anaheim – let’s be honest, three-fourths of the Lakers fans would be fair-weather fans, except it’s always fair-weather in LA. Anaheim would be the same, and a new team would likely have ups and downs. It wouldn’t be worth the risk of having a bad first year and ending the season with only eight fans. They have enough teams in Southern California, anyways, and the NBA knows that. Possible nicknames: Oranges? Mickeys? Can’t think of any good ones.
4. San Diego – Again, too many teams in the area. Besides, the Clippers are going to move back here within the next three years, mark my words. Stern will leave it open for them. Possible nicknames: Sailors? Killer Whales?
3. Seattle – I don’t doubt Seattle will get another team sometime in the future. But for now, I think they are still too busy being depressed that the Sonics left to support a new franchise. Tell me, when’s the last time you heard someone from Seattle say something positive about the NBA? Possible nicknames: Rain Clouds?
2. Las Vegas – definitely the city with the most potential – for good and bad. Good: large crowds, big promotional opportunities in the city, lots of opposing fans visiting for the experience, lots of money. Bad: big economy swings, a visiting NBA player will get arrested and/or kicked out of the league practically every week, the Vegas team will lose half its roster before December, gambling referee scandals galore. Still too risky for now. Possible nicknames: Blackjacks? Stealth?
1. Kansas City – everyone pretty much seems to agree that KC will get an NBA team soon. Exhibition games played there have had great results. A large potential fan base in the city is watching OKC have success, and the chance to have their own team would be welcomed with great enthusiasm. In fact, I could see another great NBA rivalry developing between those two teams. And for true New Orleans fans, Kansas City is a lot closer than California and Nevada. Possible nicknames: Twisters/Tornadoes? Otters?
On to the All Star question: who will be on this team in Kansas City? Obviously, the Hornets have Chris Paul right now. But is he willing to relocate with the team, or will he bolt as a free agent in 2012? A lot of NBA teams would do anything to get their hands on him. What would convince him to stay?
I’ve thought of two intriguing scenarios that could change the landscape of the NBA based on what Paul does.
Scenario #1: The Kansas City Hornets/Twisters/Otters convince Chris Paul to stay by signing Carmelo Anthony this summer.
We know that Carmelo and Paul want to play on the same team. As I’ve stated before, All Stars are what win championships, and teams need more than one these days. If the NBA can get both these guys on the same team, they could compete with Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles their first year in KC. What better way to start over in a new town?
I think this is the more likely scenario. If the team moves and doesn’t pick up Carmelo, Paul is gone for sure. Even though Kansas City may not be their ideal place to live, the chance to build a legacy together should be enough for them.
Scenario #2: The Hornets/Twisters/Otters pull a sign-and-trade with Miami: Chris Paul straight across for Dwyane Wade.
This one is a stretch, but think about it. The Heat need a point guard to contend. Chris Paul was supposedly one of the guys who wanted to team up and create a super-team. And things aren’t going as well as Miami had hoped. Wade and LeBron are the same type of player – coexisting on the same team is just too awkward. Have you noticed how unhappy Wade has looked this season? I wouldn’t be too surprised if he was okay with this – he gets to start over in a new place with a new franchise, run his own team again. If the Heat don’t make it to at least the second round of the playoffs this year, they are going to be making some changes – and this could be one of them. Although if it happens, the Heat will win every championship for the next 6 years.
The KC team would also be alright with this, if they knew they couldn’t keep Paul. Dwyane Wade has carried teams before, and he would have a solid supporting cast with David West and Emeka Okafor on his side.
Now that the NBA owns one of its teams, David Stern might have a few more surprises up his sleeve. And poor New Orleans is at his mercy.
P.S.: Any more suggestions for new team nicknames are most welcome. Or just let us know your favorite NBA conspiracy theory.