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Brooklyn Nets, LA Clippers, long second class citizens in hometowns, now rising ... but how far?

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Bruce Bennett

Jeff Caplan of NBA.com raises the possibility that the Nets and Clippers will finish above their long-time local rivals, the Knicks and Lakers, but doubts the two can "run" the country's two biggest "towns."

The stakes are huge: the Knicks and Lakers are the two most valuable franchises in the NBA (and both have huge TV deals that their rivals can't match), but what their rivals do have are more superstars and owners whose spending is more than matching their traditionally profligate rivals.  In fact, the Clippers ($307 million) and Nets ($285 million) lead the NBA in guaranteed salary commitments.

Caplan says what Paul Pierce said about the Nets "running this town" may sound nice but "that’s not going to happen." What he does see is that "the spotlight will shine brighter than ever on the Nets with Pierce and Kevin Garnett joining Deron Williams."

He notes...

"In key measurements of popularity and franchise value, the Nets and Clippers are gaining ground on, if not stealing fans and dollars from, their virtually impenetrable big brothers. In 2012-13 merchandise sales, the Nets, who have long languished in this department, spiked to No. 4 [with help from hipsters taking to the color scheme] behind the Knicks, Lakers and Heat."

Bottom line for both clubs... "While all this won’t threaten the Knicks’ and Lakers’ air-tight thrones, for two long-wallowing and overshadowed franchises, these are rare power moves in a promising, and profitable, direction."