How Does Chicago Rank Among Desirable NBA Free Agent Destinations?

How Does Chicago Rank Among Desirable NBA Free Agent Destinations?
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

NBA free agents are usually certain to make a pile of money when they jump to a new team. But when there’s a choice to make, a player probably has to weigh many factors.

With NBA free agency under way, – your home for the best Illinois sports betting promos – devised a system to determine the most desirable destinations within the league for athletes who are looking for a new home. We used a variety of metrics to make our list.

In some cases, the physical location might have more apparent appeal than the team itself. Or the reverse might be true.

In the case of the Chicago Bulls, both the city and the franchise received moderate to favorable rankings based on the criteria used to develop the rankings. The city ranked in or near the top third among NBA cities that were evaluated, and the franchise was near the top half of teams.

How We Determined Our List

BetIllinois, as part of our Illinois online sports betting coverage, combined several factors to determine a city’s desirability as well as the team’s appeal for NBA players, 

We compiled the following data: State tax burdens (data from WalletHub); media market ranking (from, via Nielsen’s 2022-23 DMA rankings); city popularity (World', via Resonance Consultancy); attendance rankings since the 2018-19 season (; winning percentage since the 2019-20 season (, and 2024 NBA championship odds ( 

Using all of the above, we devised an aggregate ranking for NBA cities and for NBA teams. Those were combined for a total aggregate ranking. The lower that number, the greater the desirability of the city/team.

We only used U.S. data, so Toronto was not included. And attendance data from the 2020-21 NBA season was not included because COVID-19 protocols varied across the league. The 2024 title odds, also available at various Illinois sportsbook apps, are through July 5.

NBA Cities Ranked By Desirability

RankCityCity Aggregate RankTeam Aggregate RankTotal Aggregate Rank
4LA (Lakers)1099.5
5LA (Clippers)109.339.67
8San Francisco13.678.3311
9New York1014.6712.33
17Salt Lake City201316.5
20Washington DC11.3323.6717.5
22Oklahoma City2011.6718.67
23San Antonio19.671919.33
26New Orleans20.3319.3319.83

Who’s No. 1 And Where Chicago Ranks

The No. 1 destination turned out to be Philadelphia, home of the 76ers. Despite that franchise’s chronic playoff disappointments, it ranked extremely high in team metrics and did better than average as a city.

The home of Chicago sports betting had a score of 11.67 in the city aggregate rankings. The Bulls, as a franchise, had a score of 15 in the team aggregate rankings. Combined, those rankings led to a total aggregate ranking score of 13.3, which tied for No. 11 overall with the combination of Brooklyn and the Nets.

The Bulls franchise has certainly not been what it was in the glory days of Michael Jordan, as the team has mostly drifted between mediocre and not-so-good. Chicago’s NBA franchise has had just one winning season in the past seven campaigns and been to the playoffs twice in the last eight seasons.

Looking ahead to the 2023-24 season, the prospects are not especially encouraging. Chicago has varying odds but customers using the BetMGM bonus code Illinois can get the Bulls at +15000 odds.

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Bill Ordine covers state gambling issues for He was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years.

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