Show me the glamor cities.
Is the National Basketball Association at risk to become a fly over league? If you look at the top names in the free agent class of 2019, you will notice a distinct pattern. The best of the best ended up in the New York City boro of Brooklyn and Los Angeles. It seems when a top notch player does get into the open market that cold, long winter Midwest and Rocky Mountain cities are not destination spots. LeBron James is the outlier here going to mid-market but warm weather Miami in 2010 and back to Cleveland four years later and landing in LA last year. Is there any hope that a big name free agent ends up in New Orleans or Oklahoma City? Probably not which means that teams in small to mid-sized markets that have winter need to figure out how to hold onto their players. Portland was able to keep Damian Lillard who has been with the franchise since 2012.
In the NBA players have power. LeBron James joined Dwayne Wade in Miami along with Chris Bosh and was able to win two championships with the team. LeBron James might have wanted to play with his friends but Miami Heat basketball head Pat Riley had to be very creative in putting together a money package that made sense for his owner. Players are creative too. Anthony Davis wanted out of his contract in New Orleans and was able to force a trade to Los Angeles to join James and the Lakers. But there is nothing new under the sun. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar didn’t think Milwaukee addressed his cultural needs in 1974 and asked to be traded to his hometown New York or his college home Los Angeles. He ended up with the Lakers. Small market owners seemingly are out of the bidding for free agents and that could be an NBA competitive problem.