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.
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.