The NBA’s poverty franchises – Brooklyn Nets, Mavericks, Hornets

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The competitive length of an NBA franchise is tricky. A team’s championship relevance depends on many factors, including the competence of the front office, the coaching staff and the overall star power on the pitch. “Poverty” in the NBA sense can be defined by the corrosion of the team’s ethics and business method.

The line between poverty and purgatory is on a knife’s edge. Many franchises waver between the two while balancing front-office scandals and mollifying superstar talent (see Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets). But there are usually a few comfortable metrics to call a franchise “poverty.” The term can be misleading and means a team is short on talent, available cap space, or draft capital. Those factors contribute, but it’s more about the moral and existential dilemmas that plague a team on and off the pitch. We put together the franchise that fell off the ethical cliff while simultaneously heading for internal implosion to find out who deserved the title of poverty franchise.

Because of its proximity to the coast, franchises like the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers, Miami Heat, and Golden State Warriors can have continued success as free-agent targets. Smaller markets rely on the draft and calculated trades to stay competitive, but can see their windows slam if their star seeks a more cosmopolitan city. For years, the league’s poverty franchises were the usual suspects, the New York Knicks, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Sacramento Kings. These three teams were the benchmark for NBA poverty, amassing records and wasting young talent and draft picks while mired in controversy on and off the court. But all three teams have managed a turn toward excellence and mediocrity in recent years, a notch above the poverty of Dante’s NBA inferno. This list highlights which three teams have taken their place as poverty franchises due to recent lapses on and off the court.