David Stern is worried about huge losses and labor costs, and mentioned that contraction of teams should be discussed during labor negotiations. Considering that 8 teams have won the NBA title in the last 31 years, it does seem ridiculous to have 30 teams in a league. A lot of dead weight just wasting money. Although not as pronounced as NHL teams that could contract, the NBA has at least 10 teams that could be considered to be eliminated in case of further labor and cost woes.
Reasons To Contract: Once the Phillies became really good, the Sixers were the 4th team in a 4 team city. They had some highs during the Iverson era, but for the most part Philadelphia is a stealth bad basketball city (at least for pros). Low attendance, low fan interest, no turnaround in site.
Reasons Against Contraction: Storied history, Philadelphia is a big market, They are one of the 8 to win a title in the last 31 years, and likely all 8 of those franchises are safe from any cuts.
Prediction: Philadelphia will stay around to vigorously compete for the 8th spot in the East. Philadelphia would survive without a pro team but unless the owner becomes an axe murderer, probably won't have to worry about that.
Reasons to Contract: How about the last 25 years of Clippers basketball? Second banana in the same arena. The LA Joke would end. Rest in Peace.
Reasons Against Contraction: The team makes money, and they are in LA. Plus you can't have the Harlem Globetrotters without the Washington Generals, so the Lakers need a hometown jobber.
Prediction: David Stern seems to love Donald Sterling, and the fact that they are still in LA today, after all of their awfulness, means they are probably not going anywhere soon.
Reasons To Contract: I would have put the Nets on this list instead had the Russian billionaire not bought the team. I added Cleveland since they've already had their basketball hearts taken, now just take the body. David Stern and God obviously hate Cleveland, so what better way to destroy any semblance of hope by taking the Cavs away.
Reasons Against Contraction: The owner seems viable, the franchise seems profitable for now, and the Cavaliers being contracted would lead to a lot of violence. There are so many other cities with teams that don't care that would be so much easier to repossess.
Prediction: David Stern runs a 1 hour special for charity to announce that he is taking the Cavs franchise to South Beach, where they will dance all night and pass out in the street and die. If Cleveland fans give a big ovation and love to Lebron, they are done.
Reasons to Contract: I had to do a search for pictures to create this article, and I didn't know who was on Toronto. Contraction could probably be negotiated easily if Toronto was given a second hockey team, or a new 1st one. Exchange rate issue excuses always lead the Canadian team to be the easy out, even if the exchange rate isn't so bad right now.
Reasons Against Contraction: Toronto has a really good fan base. Isn't the point of the NBA to create franchises in market that can sustain a team? Toronto is big market with big money with a lot of fans. I have read places which mention Toronto as most as risk or near the top of the list. With the garbage heap of teams on this list, Toronto is not near the top.
Prediction: I think if the NBA got rid of 4 teams then Toronto could be in trouble. I just think the NBA would be smart enough to stay in an international market where the game for the most part is working.
Reasons to Contract: I thought the franchise had always been contracted after their playoff series last year where they quit miserably. Any team that signs Joe Johnson to a $119 million contract should be eliminated on principle alone. If the Hawks went away today, would anyone miss them? If the NBA goes to 24 teams, Atlanta is toast.
Reasons Against Contraction: I think Atlanta is big enough to be a 3 team city, and if any team is going away it's the Thrashers. I think they played a measels quarantine game against the Sabres this week. Plus with Dominique Wilkins in their history, I think Atlanta has more than other teams being looked at.
Prediction: It's a coin flip, depending on how many teams would go away. I think Atlanta is more stable and better, so they will probably cling on for their dear life and make it through.
Reasons to Contract: Pro basketball in North Carolina doesn't work. Tried it once, they moved to New Orleans, another non-viable NBA city. Where Duke and North Carolina rule, and Wake Forest and NC State and many others exist, the Bobcats are far from top of mind. Charlotte being eliminated would be easy since they have no history.
Reasons Against Contraction: Michael Jordan is an owner of the team. It's the newest team, and hasn't been given a long time to succeed. I would add more but can't imagine the NBA not being fine without the Bobcats.
Prediction: Too new as a franchise, new arena. I think they make it if 4 teams are eliminated. Barely.
Reasons to Contract: Katrina contracted New Orleans organically, now the size of the city is in question. Can it can support a team 41 games a year? With their star player doing everything he can to get out, the Hornets will only be missed by the players who love Acme Oyster and nights on the streets. New Orleans is a really cool city, but basketball seems like a forced fit.
Reasons Against Contraction: New Orleans is a lot of fun. I don't really have much else than that. I think the fans would support the team if they were very good, with Paul wanting out that may never happen.
Prediction: Don't make any long term New Orleans Hornets plans. New Orleans fans would be disappointed that they left, and then wake up from their daze and realize the Saints did actually win the Super Bowl.
Reasons to Contract: They drafted a point guard to never play him. They once put a secret plan in writing. Every great moment in their history includes Kevin Garnett, a guy who begged to get out. The Wolves are a massive 4th team in a 4 team town and if the Vikings get a new stadium, stick a fork in them.
Reasons Against Contraction: Minneapolis is a cool market, and has some basketball history.
Prediction: Except for a year or two with Garnett, the Timberwolves have rarely amounted to anything and don't look to be on the path to doing so. If the NBA wants to cut dead weight in an easy fashion, Minnesota is a pretty safe bet.
Reasons To Contract: No championship history, old arena. In this case the analysis is more of the review of the reality than looking forward. I actually like Sacramento and like some of the players they have.
Reasons Against Contraction: Sacramento is a 1 sport city. They have some stars and are on the way up.
Prediction: The Kings are toast. Either they are moving, or they will be eliminated. The Maloofs had a history of being good owners, but this arena situation got out of hand and the Kings are doomed. Contraction, relocation, whatever happens, the Sacramento Kings are soon to be a thing of the past.
Reasons To Contract: Zero history, relocated from a bad situation out of desperation. Sometimes takes a back seat to the Memphis Tigers. No buzz, no fan following and nobody would care if Memphis went away.
Reasons Against Contraction: 7-0 in the preseason. Undefeated don't mess with them. The team isn't bad, and they really haven't had time to develop a fan base because they have stunk for the most part. A few more successful seasons and the franchise may work.
Prediction: The NBA can't think of contraction without thinking of Memphis. They have to be top of mind in this process. Memphis has some cool stuff, but if David Stern does contraction, the Grizzlies will not be one of them.