Report: Newark wants another NBA team
The New Jersey Nets have just one season left before moving to Brooklyn, but Newark mayor Cory Booker is hopeful that the city will be an attractive landing spot for another NBA franchise, the Bergen Record reported Monday.
As Newark's Prudential Center gets set to host the NBA Draft Thursday night, Booker told the paper he believes it will be an "uphill battle" to bring another team to his city, but said the battle "is winnable."
"We're definitely engaging in conversations with folks who have put out feelers about the potential for our arena to host an NBA team," Booker said. "There are definitely a number of teams struggling in their current arenas. That gives me signs of hope."
The Prudential Center is hosting the draft while the usual site, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, undergoes renovations. The draft could stay in Newark in the coming years if NBA commissioner David Stern deems this year's event a success.
Booker said Stern has never dismissed the idea of bringing another team to Newark after the Nets depart following the 2011-12 season.
"He's never thrown cold water at me," Booker said. "He's never said no. In fact, we've had some conversations about if it were to happen, what would that pathway look like?"
According to the report, the Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Charlotte Bobcats are considered possible candidates for a move due to financial losses and a shared desire for a new arena.
As far as investors go, Booker said the newly-retired Shaquille O'Neal, a native of Newark, would be part of the "A-team" in leading the effort to make sure the NBA returns to the Garden State.
The WNBA's New York Liberty will play at the Prudential Center for the next three years while the Garden undergoes summer renovations. The NHL's New Jersey Devils play their home games at the arena, along with Seton Hall University's men's basketball team.