NBA fans throughout the state of Washington know devastation. When the news broke that their beloved Seattle SuperSonics were to be relocated to Oklahoma City at the start of the 2008-2009 season it was heartbreaking. Not only were the Sonics a main stay in Seattle sports since their inception back in the late 1960s, but they were also the city’s first major sports franchise.
Since the move to Oklahoma City, Seattle natives have been clamoring for any team looking for a fresh start to be moved to the Emerald City.
There were grumblings of the Los Angeles Clippers perhaps being a candidate when the team was sold to Steve Ballmer back in 2014. Ballmer quickly shot down the idea of a relocation implying there were too many hoops to jump through in order to make the move happen.
NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, chimed in on the idea of a Seattle team in a 2018 radio interview with ESPN Seattle stating, “It’s just not on the agenda right now.”
This should not deter the people of Seattle. The NBA is in the business of making money and the state of Washington is currently flourishing economically. According to a 2017 study, Washington’s economy was ranked number one in the country, as reported by GeekWire.com. This is a big first step in showing that Seattle is ready for a big-market team.
What Will it Take to Get an NBA team in Seattle?
It often takes the selling of an NBA team to open up discussions of relocation, such as the case with the Clippers in 2014.
What if a team is performing so badly and is also on the verge of losing its only superstar? What if that team begins to lose touch with its fan base? Could this open up the possibility of a relocation? That could be the case with the New Orleans Pelicans.
NOLA No More
The Pelicans currently stand out of reach of a playoff spot and with a record of 23-29, don’t look to be getting any closer. New Orleans, unlike most bottom feeders in the league, actually have an MVP caliber player in Anthony Davis.
Davis was drafted by New Orleans with the number one overall pick in 2012. With the recent failings in New Orleans, including yet another early postseason departure last year, Davis has shown disappointment and a willingness to move on from the franchise. Rich Paul, Davis’s agent, officially announced The Brow’s trade request last week during an ESPN interview.
NBA spokesman: “We commenced an investigation this morning upon reading the reports regarding Anthony Davis. That process is ongoing.” One reason: an on-the-record request for a trade by an agent or a player. Davis could be fined.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 28, 2019
It’s widely speculated that Davis and Lebron James are very much interested in teaming up as a part of the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s clear that whether via trade or looming free agency, Davis will no longer be a part of the Pelican’s franchise moving forward.
The NBA should seriously consider moving the New Orleans franchise that could start to show a decrease in fan interest if they are unable to garner fan interested with a player like Davis.
Since 2003, the Pelicans, who were previously known as the Hornets, have only had two true NBA superstars ( Chris Paul, Anthony Davis). Other notable players drafted by New Orleans, like J.R. Smith, Darren Collison, and Buddy Hield have all played their best years after being traded by the franchise.
Seattle, however, could be a destination that lures those coveted free agents. Jamal Crawford and Isaiah Thomas are two notable players who are from Washington.
Former Slam Dunk contest winner and Renton, Washington native, Zach Lavine also has roots in the Northwest. Not to mention 3-time NBA Champion and the man who is considered one of the deadliest sharpshooters of this era, Klay Thompson, played college hoops at Washington State University.
A booming economy, no state tax, and a chance at starting a brand-new legacy in one of the country’s biggest basketball cities could definitely help lure bigger free agents in a way that New Orleans has been able to.
There’s no doubt that if Seattle is gifted with a new team, especially a team with at least one NBA superstar like Klay, fans would flock to games.
At its peak, the Seattle SuperSonics were seating over 17,000 fans on average during the mid-90s with legends like Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton battling Michael Jordon and the historic 72-win Chicago Bulls in the NBA Finals.
The biggest issue now would not be fan attendance, however, it would be the fact that there is no current stadium to hold an NBA team. One of the main reasons Clippers owner Steve Ballmer downplayed the notion of a Seattle relocation, due to the fact that Seattle City officials could not agree on how to fund and when to build a new arena.
The building of a new arena, as well as low fan attendance in New Orleans, could finally sway league officials to bring back Seattle basketball. NBA fan interest is arguably at an all-time high. One would have to think that if Seattle, a true basketball mecca, is granted a new star-studded NBA team, that would increase fan interest amongst even more—not just in Seattle, but across the globe.