As seen with the success of the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights this season, there is a strong sports market in Sin City.
While it helps that the Golden Knights have thrived on the ice and are currently in the Western Finals, there was an immediate buzz and fan interest that remained consistent throughout the season.
Since the NFL’s Oakland Raiders are planning to move to Vegas in 2020, it becomes a natural conversation to suggest that an NBA team joins the mix. After all, the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces are already in town and T-Mobile Arena is a state-of-the-art facility that could easily host an NBA team.
Although the Golden Knights were an expansion team, the Aces relocated and the Raiders are slated to relocate, all three leagues found a way to infiltrate Vegas. Now, the question becomes whether or not an NBA franchise wants to take the leap or if commissioner Adam Silver plans on creating an expansion team.
Judging by the comments that MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren made on Thursday during at a company analyst and investor event, it’s reasonable to assume that an NBA team will make the move to Vegas in the coming years.
“I think it’s highly likely that a team, or multiple teams, will be looking to move over the next three years,” Murren said, per Mick Akers of the Las Vegas Sun. “We know who they are, that’s why I think it’s highly likely. I would expect that Las Vegas will have an NBA team within the next five years, if not sooner. That team would likely play at T-Mobile (Arena).”
Therefore, he already knows who is interested in making the move.
“We’re in the WNBA for a reason,” president of MGM resorts Bill Hornbuckle said at the same event. “They’re (NBA) very focused on this market — they’re very interested to see what happens. So, I think three to five-years is very real in terms of somebody coming to us and saying, ‘We want to move a team (to Las Vegas),’ and then we’ll have some considerations to make in terms of if it happens or not.”
It’s worth noting that the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Hornets, Brooklyn Nets and Memphis Grizzlies had the five-worst attendance marks in the NBA this season, per ESPN. Although that’s not always a major predictor of a potential relocation (all five of those teams missed the playoffs and struggled all season long), the Hornets and Grizzlies remain logical possibilities since the Pistons and Nets play in new arenas while the Hawks have a massive renovation planned.
However, the allure of Vegas is real and any NBA owner looking to make his or her franchise more valuable and exciting could realistically make the decision to relocate. It will be fascinating to find out who the mystery team is.
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