Despite selling a minority stake in the team, San Antonio Spurs ownership is committed to staying put. That doesn’t seem to be the case for the competition.
News broke just last week that the San Antonio Spurs ownership group is selling a minority share of the team, but they’ve made it abundantly clear that the team is staying put. This was again reiterated in a report by Sports Illustrated’s Sam Amico, whose source said the team is “not going anywhere.”
Spurs Sports & Entertainment’s commitment to the River City was never in question as the organization and its city have a strong bond that I wouldn’t anticipate changing any time soon. Still, this was a bit of a surprising announcement considering the fact that this was already a major assumption across the fanbase. San Antonio supports the Spurs and the Spurs support San Antonio; It’s obvious that they’re not going anywhere.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the Spurs’ competition won’t be on the move sometime soon.
Given the uncertainty regarding the league’s suspension and the huge revenue loss suffered by the league’s ownership groups, it’s not surprising to see small market owners searching for new suitors to buy their teams. This thought was reaffirmed by Hall of Fame center and TNT Analyst Shaquille O’Neal, who was quoted as saying “I heard through the grapevine that there are a couple teams for sale and one may be going to Vegas” on his podcast.
It’s wholly possible that the Holt family and SS&E executives wanted to get ahead of this news after hearing similar ideas from league insiders. Hearing that the Spurs are selling a small stake in the team might lead speculators to suggest that the team will be moving on from San Antonio and the organization put out these statements to get ahead of that train of thought.
The teams most likely to be sold would be those toward the bottom in attendance. Dead-last in average home attendance is the Minnesota Timberwolves, who reach just 79.4% of their capacity. Other teams in the lowest percentile of average attendance are the Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies.
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Detroit just built a new arena and has a lot of basketball history, so they’re probably not going anywhere. Phoenix’s owner, Robert Sarver, just put down a ton of money to build them a state-of-the-art practice facility that’s slated to open in 2021, so they’re probably staying put too. Charlotte, Minnesota and Memphis are all interesting candidates to move.
Two teams in the Spurs’ division, the Grizzlies and the New Orleans Pelicans might be on the move. NOLA is significantly less likely given the leap they just took in interest because of Zion Williamson, but it’s an organization that’s always felt out of place in it’s home and might seek a brighter spotlight for Zion in Vegas.
Shaking up the Southwest Divison would be very interesting, especially if one of Memphis or New Orleans moves to Las Vegas. The most likely teams to move into the Spurs’ vision are the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Phoenix Suns due to proximity if that were the case, dramatically changing the annual competition that San Antonio goes up against.
There’s no telling what the future holds, but the Spurs aren’t going anywhere.