The New Orleans Pelicans are coming off yet another sorely disappointing season. It has led to rumors that star forward Zion Williamson is not happy about the direction of the organization and could, at some point, request a trade.
The backdrop here is a lack of interest in the Pelicans locally in the Bayou. This has also led to widespread speculation that relocation could be in the cards.
“With the team only committed to its lease in The Big Easy through 2024, sources consistently mention New Orleans as the most likely team to seek relocation in the coming decade,” John Hollinger of The Athletic noted recently.
While attendance figures around the NBA have been skewed over the past two seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things have not been great for the New Orleans Pelicans in this regard.
- 2018-19: 25th in the NBA
- 2017-18: 24th in the NBA
- 2016-17: 23rd in the NBA
Pelicans owner Gayle Benson has ties to New Orleans given that she’s also the head of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints — an extremely successful professional franchise. Even then, the billionaire is not in the business of losing money. It doesn’t help that these Pelicans are second-least valuable franchise in the NBA, according to the most-recent Forbes estimates. All of this could lead to the Pelicans relocating here soon. If so, here’s three ideal destinations.
New Orleans Pelicans relocate to Las Vegas
Recent reports suggest that Vegas and Seattle are favored to land the NBA’s next expansion franchise. On that same note, the Association is looking at rare expansion in order to help overcome recent revenue hits caused by the aforementioned COVID-19 pandemic.
Vegas makes sense for a number of reasons. It’s a growing population center out west with people moving to the desert metropolis from the likes of California and Arizona in droves. The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights have been super successful playing at T-Mobile Arena on the world-famous strip. Meanwhile, the NFL’s Raiders just relocated to Vegas and it looks like the Oakland Athletics might do the same thing in the MLB world.
The only issue here is that the NBA might actually want an expansion team in Las Vegas. The city is made up of a transient population from throughout the United States and the world. Said individuals already have home teams they root for. Bringing in an expansion team rather than an existing organization would lead to fandom on a level we’ve seen with the Knights.
New Orleans Pelicans relocate to Seattle
This might actually make more sense. To say that Seattle deserves an NBA team following the relocation and rebranding of the then-Sonics to Oklahoma City as the Thunder would be an understatement. Said relocation was among the most controversial things we’ve seen in modern NBA history.
With the NFL’s Seahawks and MLB’s Mariners doing extremely well in Seattle, there’s no question that the market can handle another professional sports team. The NHL’s Kraken are also slated to start play in 2021-22. It’s also important to note that Climate Pledge Arena is undergoing a $1.15 billion renovation and will open in time for the Kraken to christen it in October.
New Orleans Pelicans relocate to Kansas City
The old Kansas City Kings of the NBA played in this Missouri metropolis from 1972-85 before relocating to California’s capital city of Sacramento. Since then, there’s been a major push for the city to acquire an NBA team. That now includes legendary Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The Power and Light district area in downtown Kansas City would make perfect sense for the New Orleans Pelicans if they are indeed looking to join the modern NBA. This is to say, playing at a location which is seen as an entertainment venue that houses restaurants, bars and other amenities. The only issue with Kansas City housing an expansion team is the lack of a billionaire willing to make a commitment. Benson could change that. This is especially true with the multi-use T-Mobile Center capable of housing an NBA team.