In all of the talks about there being a lockout and about the league trying every possible solution to make this all work out, one of the words being tossed around is, "contraction." The removal of certain teams from the league all together in order to make the costs lower, with profits not dipping quite as low.
LeBron publicly bashed the Wolves and the Nets for having bad records and for being potential targets to being one of the teams contracted. But are they really the two most likely teams to be removed?
Here are all 30 teams in order of their likeliness of being removed from the NBA.
Does it really need to be said?
They're the oldest team in the league, they have the most championships, the most history, the most retired numbers, and one of the best attendance records in the league.
They're not going anywhere.
But seriously, the Lakers are part of the duo of the most successful franchises in the history of the NBA. Fans seeing this should be upset about them not being lower than the Celtics, but hey, they're not going anywhere any time soon.
The league leader in attendance and home attendance.
The Bulls are the most watched team in the NBA this season, and therefore one of the most profitable. Throw in the Jordan era, and you've got one of the most successful franchises of all time (they're also the sixth oldest team in the NBA).
Again, not even close.
It's almost a given that you can't take away the pure thrill of having the New York Knicks in the league. Madison Square Garden is obviously the place to be in the NBA, and now that the Knicks are back to being good, the team is in the top 10 in attendance.
It has to be pointed out that historically, the Knicks are actually in the bottom half of the league in terms of all time winning percentage.
But they're the Knicks!
Shocked to see them here? Me too.
Well, if you look up some statistics on the Blazers, you'll find that they're one of the winningest franchises in the NBA, they have some of the most attended games, and they've been around the longest out of any of the teams in the NBA.
Once you most past the common sense ones, the least likely team to be contracted is actually the Blazers.
No one would take the Jazz out of Utah.
The Jazz are the only team IN Utah, and they have been one of the better teams in the NBA all-time and in recent years. Their fan base is so heavy that it would be one of the dumbest moves to remove the Jazz from Utah.
It ain't going to happen.
As much as fans would love to see Mark Cuban's beloved franchise ripped from his bare hands, the fact of the matter is, that won't happen.
Despite Dallas being a relatively new team, and one without one of the best all-time records, the Mavericks games are just too well attended to have their franchise pulled from the NBA.
They just make too much money.
Parading around the best record in the NBA doesn't give a team a whole lot of ground to be removed from the league.
Not only that, but having a number of championships in their past and a lot of fans in their seats is also keeping the Spurs pretty stable in Texas.
Who remembers that time when Phoenix games weren't attended? That time when the team wasn't very good.
Well that two weeks is irrelevant, because the Suns are one of the best franchises the NBA has. They've got one of the best all-time records in the NBA, and the fans are still buying tickets to see Steve Nash do what he does best. They're record may have slipped a little bit recently, but it's nothing that will keep them out of the NBA.
A relatively new team in the NBA, but still one of the best in the league.
It seems as though the Magic have always been a great team to watch in the NBA from Shaq to T-Mac to D12 to VC. A couple of trips to the Finals have also put this young team in their place in history. Throw in a good attendance record, and you're looking at a team with a solid foundation.
We were all waiting for this one to come up, weren't we?
Well, truth be told, the Heat aren't one of the best historic teams, or historically one of the most attended games. But they do have a Championship to tout, along with some of the best players the NBA has ever seen on one team.
Despite the hype, though, they're only fifth in terms of home attendance this year. It seems a little strange that they're not completely crushing other teams in that category.
It almost seems insulting to put the Cavs directly after the Heat.
But, it seems that people still attend Cavs games despite the lack of the King, as they are 12th in attendance (second at home). The Cavs have also been in the league for a long time (losing most of that time, however), and their owner has got his team staying right where he wants them.
Their low attendance and weak ownership is working against them.
However, history could be working for them. The NBA wouldn't want to eliminate a team with a rich history of winning and with a few championships in hand. That is unless, of course, that doesn't factor into their decision making, in which case the Pistons would be a lot lower.
For the time being, however, they're not far from being in the top half of the league in terms of attendance, and they're occasionally broadcast nationally.
Despite all of the 'Melo drama, the Nuggets are still paying their bills in Denver.
They're also one of the oldest teams in the NBA, and that's not exactly something that David Stern would want to take away from. They're not great as far as attendance, but they're certainly not bad either. Chances are, they'll be fine in Denver.
This is another Utah situation.
The Thunder mean so much to Oklahoma City. They're the one sports team that they've actually got, so the fans come out every time. It'd be easy to get rid of one of the newest teams in the NBA by nature, but the Thunder are a special case because they'd be so dearly missed by their already hardcore fans.
The Warriors are very, very close to being one of the top 10 teams in attendance (both home and overall).
That's got to be one of the biggest stats that would factor into the decision of any kind of contraction. When it comes to record, other teams in the area, and history, the Warriors won't be so lucky.
But this is a money issue, so a money related solution would leave the Warriors still playing in lower California.
This one is almost too historical to drop.
The 76ers are one of the original teams in the NBA, so they couldn't be dropped, right?
Well, they're in the bottom six in terms of home attendance in the NBA, and their overall attendance isn't much better. I mean, after a certain point, this stops being an issue of historic value and starts becoming a money issue. The question is, can the Sixers live on just their historic value if they don't pick things up soon?
Fear the deer?
Yeah, I guess you can still Fear the Deer. I mean, people still do generally fill out the seats in Milwaukee, and they've got a pretty good All-Time record, but they still aren't in terrific shape. A slip up in terms of money could send Milwaukee packing, but it doesn't seem likely.
Milwaukee should be fine.
Well, the good news is if this happens, you've still got two more in the state to root for, Texas!
But it shouldn't. Houston has generally been a winning team in the NBA, and despite a loosing record recently, they are still in the top two thirds in both away and home attendance. People do like to watch the Rockets, so they should be fine.
Despite being in the bottom five in terms of all time record, the Raptors are way higher than 11th worst in terms of attendance.
The Raptors are actually a strong NBA club when it comes to money. If the league is really set on removing the worst teams in the NBA, then the Raptors may actually have a shot at getting kicked out, but if that's not the major criteria, then I just don't see how it would work.
And honestly, who else saw their record coming this year?
Surprised? Don't be that shocked.
This is when a lot of the intagables start to come into play, and despite being a historically bad team, the Wolves are pretty high up in terms of attendance, especially when they start winning. Their ownership is also very strong and won't be willing to give them up without a fight, and the team is known for usually not getting into trouble and being the kind of community that the NBA likes to see.
Could MJ give up his Bobcats?
Well, it's not a crazy thought. People have questioned his ability as an owner, and the franchise has had its share of problems. I can't remember the last time a coach actually resigned mid-year.
But, I don't think Stern is that heartless to remove one of the few sports teams in that area, especially one that is so new. It wouldn't be that tough to do, however.
You could argue that history would be on their side for this club, but in some ways, not really.
The NBA would love nothing more than to wipe the Malice at the Palace out of existence, and taking the Pacers away would help. Especially when the Pacers are 27th in home attendance.
And the whole Reggie Miller era won't go down in history as much as other teams at that time will.
Oh, no! The fans will be so disappointed!
Yeah, the Hawks have not had the best track record when it comes to being one of the more fun teams to watch in the NBA. Why? Because no one in Atlanta wants to watch. What may end up happening is if the league does some reshuffling, the Hawks may be out of Atlanta and into another city (like Seattle), but it's not a great situation in Atlanta.
At least they won't be missed.
The worst record in the NBA for most of the season never helps an argument.
Neither does the worst record in terms of attendance in the NBA.
Truth of the matter is, if there was to be some kinds of contraction, it would be LIKELY that it would happen to the Sacramento Kings. Nothing against the ownership or the players. It's just a hard team to defend.
They're just too easy of a target.
The plain and simple truth of the matter is there are two teams in the NBA that are located in the exactly same place. The Clippers actually have a relatively good record this year and are pretty high up in attendance. But they're just bad, historically, and they've got the Lakers literally sharing their arena.
If you need a team to be the butt of the joke, keep the Timberwolves; it makes more sense.
They have the worst All-Time record in the NBA.
Despite being a playoff contender, they're in the bottom five in attendance.
They're only major playoff run was in the Pau Gasol era.
They haven't been in Memphis long.
If contraction were to happen, Memphis has already got a big red target painted all over themselves.
New owners, gunfights, a bad record, and bad attendance doesn't exactly put a argument for them to go on David Stern's "keep" list.
That's just the plain and simple truth of the matter in Washington. The team is bad, they're under new ownership, they've had tons of issues in the past, and not a whole lot of people tune into their games.
It just makes sense that it's time to go.
The only reason this makes sense is because of their current questions surrounding the state of their franchise in New Orleans.
It would be mean to take away the Hornets from a city in such turmoil, but the team is also pretty low in attendance and has a lot of things about their franchise in question.
It's not looking great in New Orleans.
Okay...LeBron may have been right about this one.
A new owner wouldn't be too heart-broken to see his not-yet beloved franchise go down. I mean, if they're planning on moving the team to another location, why not move them directly out of the league entirely?