It’s already been 10 years since the Nets NBA team played their final season in New Jersey.
The franchise played its first season as the New Jersey Americans back in 1967-68 in the American Basketball Association. After one year, the franchise relocated to New York and changed their name to the “Nets.”
New York relocated to New Jersey for the 1977-78 season, and they stayed there for 35 years before relocating to Brooklyn in 2012-13.
Losing the franchise via relocation was tough enough for New Jersey residents. But seeing the Nets rise as a top-flight contender under Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant certainly has to make things somewhat more painful.
With the league’s best superstar trio, the Nets unsurprisingly boast the highest 2022 championship odds. BetMGM New York launched last month, and though online casino games haven’t been legalized in New York, the nearby state of New Jersey has a booming online casino industry that NY residents can use.
With the Nets moving to Brooklyn, New Jersey was left with only one professional sports team in the “big four” leagues (NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB), the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.
The Devils have been playing in New Jersey since 1982-83, having relocated from Colorado where the franchise played as the Rockies.
Of course, the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets actually play at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. So citizens of NJ technically have two local football teams to cheer for.
Aside from the Devils, Giants and Jets, will the state of New Jersey get another professional sports team to cheer on in the future?
NBA Returning To New Jersey? Don’t Count On It
Aside from the Nets’ move to Brooklyn, which wasn’t at all a distant relocation, it’s been 14 years since an NBA franchise last switched states.
After playing out the 2007-08 season in Seattle, the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and changed their name to the “Thunder.”
There hasn’t been much talk about an NBA franchise relocating in recent years.
Nine years ago, the NBA’s Board of Governors blocked a plan that would have seen the Sacramento Kings relocate to Seattle. The Emerald City hasn’t garnered much momentum since, but with Seattle landing the NHL’s 32nd franchise (the Kraken), there’s at least a suitable market and arena to welcome back a basketball team.
Simply put, New Jersey isn’t going to be high on the NBA’s priority list when it comes to relocation or expansion.
Aside from Seattle, other major markets like Vancouver, Louisville, Kansas City, St. Louis and Las Vegas (which now has the NFL’s Raiders and NHL’s Golden Knights) should be in consideration.
In short, sports fans in New Jersey shouldn’t get their hopes up over the idea of a basketball team coming back to the Garden State.
What About A Baseball Team?
Out of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, MLB has seen the fewest relocations over the past 50 years.
The last MLB relocation took place in 2005, when the Montreal Expos relocated to Washington and became the Nationals. This was the first relocation of an MLB franchise since 1972, when the Washington Senators moved to Texas and switched their name to “Rangers.”
Unfortunately for New Jersey baseball fans, there’s little reason to be optimistic about the state landing an MLB team.
The Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays are the only two franchises that could find themselves relocated in the foreseeable future.
San Jose and Las Vegas are viewed as two prime destinations if the A’s relocate. And geographically speaking, it’d make more sense for Oakland to relocate to the West Coast so the league doesn’t have to adjust its divisional alignment.
Nashville, Tennessee also seems to have more traction on landing an MLB team than New Jersey. If the Rays ever relocate, a move to the nearby state of Tennessee would be rather
The state of New Jersey just hasn’t been mentioned as a strong candidate to land an MLB team, and understandably so. The nearby New York Mets and New York Yankees already provide New Jersey residents with two local teams to root four, after all.