It's still kind of odd to me that the Pelicans are considered such a small market, crap franchise in the NBA but the Saints aren't really considered small market in the NFL. They play literally a 5 iron away from each other in buildings that are equally not great. It's still such a young franchise and I guess since they have no history of success that there just wasn't ever a strong core fan base developed. Every game I go to usually has decent seats avail for under 20 bucks. Still, I can think of a lot of worse places to be in the league if I was a young famous African-American millionaire than NOLA. Hell, I can certainly think of more than are worse than better.
This isn't the case with NOLA and it isn't really openly discussed by media for obvious reasons but "big market" in the NBA is sometimes just code for "strong nightlife and lots of beautiful women". It's why Cleveland is considered "small market" and Miami referred to as "big market" even though one is 19th in market size and the other is 16th. Social media has helped though with instagram and twitter.Small markets work a lot differently in the NFL vs the NBA though, too.
I don't think this is the case with NOLA because I agree that NOLA would be a great place to live for a lot of these young black guys in their 20's and early 30's but it is the second smallest market in the league behind the Grizzlies. I think their problem is just guys don't trust the front office right now.
It's also a big reason why Boston is never mentioned by many of the young players as a big market destination despite the literal market size because, and I can speak from experience, Boston isn't a fun place to live when you're a black guy in your 20's. I realized real quick that wasn't the move and got out.