It’s a great time to be a fan of the National Basketball Association. There are true international superstars playing in the league. Both the Eastern and Western Conferences have several scintillating storylines that should make for excellent television and in-person experiences each midweek of the campaign. While the NBA West possesses the current league champions, two contenders from the opposite end of the country are favorites to win it all come next spring.
Northeast Ohio is the center of the sports universe thanks largely to LeBron James returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The new so-called “Big 3” of the NBA will have fierce competition from the Chicago Bulls for the conference title. Don’t forget about the San Antonio Spurs, who have no interest in giving King James anything.
It’s not good times for every team in the NBA. Several franchises will struggle to fill seats for home games throughout the upcoming season. Those clubs should theoretically take care of their fans by offering inexpensive season tickets.
That is largely the case around the league.
These are the 15 NBA teams with the least expensive median ticket prices in the NBA for the 2014-15 season.
Values courtesy of Forbes
15. Utah Jazz: $95 Per Ticket
The truth of the matter is that Utah could do better for a fan base that had little reason to watch the Jazz live and in-person last season. Utah went 16-25 at home in 2013-14, and the Jazz managed to pick up victories only nine times when on the road. They finished dead last in the NBA Western Conference standings.
Only three teams in the NBA currently have lower team salaries than Utah. Point guard Gordon Hayward and power forward Derrick Favors are the only players on the roster responsible for double-digit salary figures. Hayward will make $14.76 million this season, while Favors will get $12.65 million.
14. Boston Celtics: $90 Per Ticket
The days of the Celtics having the best overall roster in the NBA East and of Boston being an annual championship contender are in the past. The Celts are in the middle of what could be a painful rebirth. They finished 13 games out of the playoffs last spring, and odds are that Boston will be on the outside looking in for another campaign.
What Boston will do with point guard Rajon Rondo could be the biggest story regarding the Celtics from now through the winter months. Rondo has a cap figure of over $12 million, and he is set to become a free agent. Rondo is being linked with several teams, and the Celtics would do well to get something for him before he enters free agency.
13. Toronto Raptors: $88 Per Ticket
The Raptors could be considered to be a bargain in the world of professional sports. Fans and analysts aren’t putting Toronto in the same category occupied by the likes of the Cavs, Bulls or San Antonio Spurs, but the Raptors did finish third in the NBA East last season. They won 26 home games during the regular season.
The Raptors deserve credit for spending money on a roster that can compete night in and night out. Toronto currently has the fifth-highest NBA team salary in the league. Point guard Kyle Lowry carries a $12 million cap hit. Shooting guard DeMar DeRozan has a $9.5 million base salary.
12. San Antonio Spurs: $78 Per Ticket
That San Antonio is even on this list speaks to the quality of what has for years been the best franchise in the NBA. The Spurs have won division titles in each of the past four seasons. San Antonio defeated the Miami Heat in last spring’s NBA Finals, and some experts are predicting that the Spurs will successfully defend their crown this time around.
The Spurs are in the bottom-half of the list of total NBA team salaries. Point guard Tony Parker will be the top earner on the club’s roster, as he will make $12.5 million this season. Power forward and all-time great Tim Duncan has a base salary of $10.36 million.
11. Milwaukee Bucks: $75 Per Ticket
Milwaukee, similar to Utah, should be lower on this list. While Philadelphia (more on the 76ers later) was perceived to be the goat of the NBA for phoning games in last spring, the Bucks were responsible for the worst record in the league. Milwaukee won 10 games at home, and the club finished the campaign with a total of 15 victories.
Milwaukee currently has the second-lowest team salary in the NBA. Fans of the Bucks will be hoping that a rookie drafted earlier this year will be able to serve as a team savior. Milwaukee selected Duke superstar Jabari Parker with the second overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves: $75 Per Ticket
The Timberwolves are a team looking past 2014-15. Minnesota was forced to trade Kevin Love or risk losing him for nothing, and the Timberwolves eventually completed a three-team trade that saw the club acquire Cleveland flop Anthony Bennett, first-year pro Andrew Wiggins and Thaddeus Young.
Young has the second-highest salary on the ‘Wolves. He will carry a $9.41 cap hit for 2014-15.
Minnesota was largely an afterthought last season. The Timberwolves finished with a 40-42 overall record. 24 of those victories came at home. Minnesota was nine games back of a playoff spot after 82 games were played.
9. Portland Trail Blazers: $75 Per Ticket
The Trail Blazers routinely rewarded fans who paid money to watch the team play meaningful basketball games. Portland won 31 of 41 home games last season. The Trail Blazers went 13-3 in division play, and they earned the fifth seed for the NBA West Playoffs.
Portland has managed to find success even though they are in the bottom-half of NBA team salaries. Two players, power forward LeMarcus Aldridge and small forward Nicholas Batum, will earn over $11 million this season. Aldridge has a $16.256 million cap figure, while Batum is carrying a cap figure of a little under $12 million.
8. Denver Nuggets: $70 Per Ticket
Last season did not go as Denver would have hoped. While the Nuggets did post a winning home record of 22-19, they only managed to pick up 14 road victories during the campaign. Denver was 13 games out of the playoffs when the season came to an end.
Denver has splashed cash in an attempt to bring a winning basketball team to the city. Point guard Ty Lawson will make roughly $11.6 million as per the terms of his deal. Center JaVale McGee is on a $11.2 million contract this season. Small forward Danilo Gallinari, who was sidelined 18 months because of an ACL injury, has a cap hit of a little under $11 million.
7. Washington Wizards: $69 Per Ticket
The Wizards have what some believe to be the best backcourt in all of the NBA, one that features point guard John Wall and shooting guard Bradley Beal. Wall is the top earner on the Washington roster this season. He has a $14.746 million base salary. Beal will make slightly over $4.5 million as per the terms of his rookie deal.
This isn’t to suggest that the Wizards are only a two-man team. Washington grabbed veteran Paul Pierce during the offseason. Pierce will make $5.305 million this season. Center Nene Hilario is on a $13 million deal for the current campaign.
6. Dallas Mavericks: $65 Per Ticket
The Mavericks managed to narrowly qualify for the NBA postseason tournament last spring. Dallas finished with an overall mark of 49-33, one game ahead of the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference standings. The Mavs had the worst home record of any playoff team out of the NBA West, going 26-15 in contests played in Dallas.
Center Tyson Chandler and small forward Chandler Parsons will be the highest earners on the Mavericks for 2014-15. Chandler is scheduled to make over $14.8 million. Parsons has a base salary of $14.7 million.
5. Philadelphia 76ers: $65 Per Ticket
Do better for your fans, Philadelphia. That’s the first thought that comes to mind upon seeing prices for tickets to 76ers home games.
Philadelphia was downright terrible last season, and the perception around the NBA was that the Sixers “tanked” games with the hopes of getting the first overall pick of the 2014 draft. That did not happen because the sports gods are sometimes just, and that is just one reason the team will likely have another forgettable campaign.
Philadelphia is dead last in the list of total NBA team salaries. Most insiders are expecting the club to be in the bottom of the overall league standings next springtime. The 76ers likely won’t be worth watching in person at any price.
That fan base deserves more.
4. Indiana Pacers: $64 Per Ticket
The Pacers were prepping to contend for a conference championship at the start of summer when it all went terribly wrong. Small forward Paul George was training with the United States national team leading up to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup when he suffered a horrific compound fracture in his lower leg. George won’t play this season, and there is speculation that he will never be the same player.
No club could just go out and replace a player with George’s talents. There are now rumors swirling about that Indiana could trade center Roy Hibbert at some point over the next several months. Hibbert has a player option following this season, and he has been linked with the Cavs.
3. Memphis Grizzlies: $61 Per Ticket
Memphis knows how to take care of paying customers. Granted, the Grizzlies are not expect to win an NBA title anytime soon, but the club has a roster capable of making the postseason. Memphis finished the campaign seventh in the Western Conference standings last season, the Grizzlies went 27-14 at home, and they still have the second-lowest season ticket price in all of the NBA.
Memphis doesn’t post low ticket prices because the team doesn’t spend money on players. The Grizzlies have the sixth-highest team salary in the NBA. Power forward Zach Randolph has a cap figure close to $17 million, while center Marc Gasol takes up nearly $15.83 million of cap space.
2. Detroit Pistons: $59 Per Ticket
Critics of the Pistons would say that the team’s season ticket prices should be lower than what they are. Detroit won only 29 times in 2013-14. 17 of those victories came when the Pistons were playing in front of home crowds. The Pistons weren’t even in playoff discussions in the final weeks of the campaign, and it doesn’t appear that they will be a postseason side this season.
Detroit resides in the bottom tier of NBA team salaries. Only six teams in the league have lower salaries than that of the Pistons. Small forward Josh Smith will carry a cap hit of $13.5 million over the next several years. It is rumored that Detroit is shopping Smith this fall.
1. New Orleans Pelicans: $55 Per Ticket
Hornets no more, the Pelicans offer what is financially the best deal in the NBA as it pertains to regular season tickets. The club did post a winning record at home last season, going 22-19 in contests played in New Orleans. It was the team’s road record that sunk their playoff chances last season.
New Orleans won only 12 of 41 away contests.
The Pelicans are in the bottom tier of total team salaries. New Orleans has roughly $15 million tied up on shooting guard Eric Gordon. Point guard Tyreke Evans is set to make about $11.2 million for the 2014-15 season.