WASHINGTON (AP) _ Calling the financial situation unfair to owner Michael Heisley, NBA commissioner David Stern gave the Vancouver Grizzlies permission to explore a move to another city.

St. Louis, New Orleans and Nashville, Tenn., have been mentioned as possible destinations for the team.

Stern, NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik and Heisley, who paid $160 million to buy the team from John McCaw in 1999, met Monday at a Washington hotel to discuss the team's future.

Stern said the Grizzlies (13-36) will lose at least $40 million this year and even more next year.

``We agreed to assist Michael Heisley in exploring other North American cities which may be appropriate for Vancouver to look into,'' Stern said in a statement.

If the team wants to relocate by the start of next season, it would have to submit an application to the NBA by March 1, the league said.