- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - The NBA will hold its 2011 draft in Newark, N.J., while Madison Square Garden undergoes renovations.

Commissioner David Stern said Wednesday the event might keep moving around even after the work on the Garden is completed.

The draft will take place at the Prudential Center on June 23, Stern said before the New Jersey Nets‘ season opener against the Detroit Pistons. The Nets will play their home games at the arena for the next two years before a planned move to Brooklyn.

The NBA hasn’t decided where to hold the 2012 and 2013 drafts while the Garden is under construction _ and it may keep the road show going beyond that.


Stern said the NBA had been thinking about moving the draft around again even before it learned the Garden wouldn’t be available.

“The fact that it wasn’t, it gave us the capacity to begin talking to a lot of other cities,” he said. “I think it may have changed our perspective a little bit, because the draft has become a really culturally different event and a source of great popularity and publicity.”

The draft was held in New York from 1979, when it became a public event, through 1991, and from 2001 until this past summer. In between, though, it bounced around North America for nine years, including a stop in the Nets‘ former home in East Rutherford, N.J., in 1996.

With Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov about to watch a game as Nets owner for the first time, Stern joked that the NBA could hold the draft in Moscow.

The Prudential Center, which opened in 2007, is home to the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and Seton Hall basketball. The WNBA’s New York Liberty announced last month they’d play the next three seasons at the Prudential Center while the Garden was renovated.

“We considered other cities. We had some relatively attractive offers,” Stern said. “But we thought that with the Nets coming here and the excitement that’s going to be generated for Newark, it was really the time to put the draft here.”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker suggested that future cities should be picked through 1-on-1 basketball games between their mayors _ as long as Sacramento’s Kevin Johnson, the former Phoenix Suns All-Star, is disqualified. But Booker said he’d take on Detroit’s mayor, 66-year-old Hall-of-Famer Dave Bing.