I'm thinking about what NBA teams I'd like to see be contracted.
1. Performance: As much as I want to see the Lakers go away, it's not going to happen. Historical performance is important as well. The 76ers are awful now, but do you want to say the team that Dr. J played for no longer exists?
2. Attendance: Do fans show up?
3. Competition from other teams in proximity: If you take away the Jazz from Utah, what do they have left? But, if the city is big on hockey, would they really miss basketball?
4. Arena: Obviously teams with a new arena tend to be safer than those whose arena is older than I am (and I am old).
Let's break these down:
Over half of the NBA makes the playoffs every year, and they do have a salary cap—unlike baseball. The longest droughts have been Minnesota and the Knicks with six years. The Pacers, Clippers, Grizzlies, and Kings have had four year droughts.
Minnesota was Kevin's team before their drought; the Pacers had Reggie and some success last decade; the Kings were good during the Chris Webber era; the Knicks are the Knicks.
Memphis is historically the worst team in the NBA. They have made three playoff appearances in 15 years, and have won a grand total of zero playoff games.
The Clippers are pretty pathetic as well. Since 1997-98 (13 seasons), only one playoff berth (amazingly they won their first round series).
Another bad team is the Golden State Warriors, who have had only one playoff berth since 1994-95. The Warriors did win 48 games in 2007-08, but missed the playoffs.
Teams to contract based on criteria number one: Grizzles, Clippers, and Warriors.
The Hawks had some problems earlier, but have since improved. (Although, I can barely name any Hawk at this point.) They were decent in attendance last season, which actually didn't count in the decade rankings.
You can blame the Nets poor attendance (ranked dead last in 2009-10) on their horrible season (12-70). Then again, they are 6th from the bottom in attendance during the decade and did make two Finals appearances during that span.
Once again, the Grizzlies are second from the bottom in both lists.
Teams to contract based on criteria number two: Grizzlies, Hawks, and Nets.
This is where Memphis has an argument because they have no other pro teams. The NFL and NHL teams are in Nashville, over 200 miles away. They do have Memphis University basketball, though, which I imagine is better attended.
As for teams in hockey passionate cities, the Toronto Raptors have to be at the top of the list, but surprisingly, they were in the top half in attendance last season and over the past decade, in the top 10. One of the biggest hockey towns is Detroit, but the Pistons are popular and successful.
Two teams that should be on the top of the list for a different reason are the Clippers and the Nets. The Nets are supposedly heading to Brooklyn, a place with no other team of it's own. They'll establish their identity.
As for the Clippers, please tell me why. They're not even the only team in LA. They don't even have their own arena. Would anyone miss the Clippers?
Teams to contract based on criteria number three: Clippers, Nets, Raptors, Pistons, and Timberwolves (Minnesota is a big hockey state).
Arenas opened before 1990: Knicks (MSG: 1968), Pistons (Palace: 1988), Bucks (Bradley Center: 1988), Warriors (Oracle Arena, 1966), and Kings (Arco: 1988).
The Palace of Auburn Hills has the highest capacity in the NBA, and the lowest is Arco, holding less than 18,000.
Teams to contract based on criteria number four: Kings, Warriors, and Bucks.
If two teams have to go, they have to be...
1. Clippers—They stink, and LA already has the most popular NBA team on the planet.
2. Grizzlies—Hate to take away Memphis' only team, but they've had 15 years without a playoff win, and no attendance.
I would personally like to take the Raptors away and have the NBA become an entirely US league, but I think that's a long shot. Let's see how fans like the team without Bosh.
If you consider Sacramento part of the Bay Area, they shouldn't have two NBA teams, so the Kings and Warriors look to be candidates for contraction. If I had to choose, I would say get rid of the Warriors. Sacramento has nothing else, and Oakland already has two pro teams. If anything, one of the Oakland teams should move to San Jose who should have more than a hockey team.
I think the Nets would be another contraction candidate, but I'd like to see how Brooklyn warms up to them.
Long shots for contraction would be the Timberwolves (take away Garnett and they have no history whatsoever), Bucks, and Hawks.
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