"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 move by the start of next season, it would have to submit an application to the NBA by March 1.
Heisley told the Vancouver Sun there is a $200-million-plus offer from a party wishing to buy the team and move it to the United States.
Heisley's losses previously had been estimated at $30 million, but Stern said they could be $40 million.
St. Louis Blues owner Bill Laurie tried to buy the Grizzlies in 1999 with plans to move them to St. Louis. A spokesman said Laurie has taken no steps in recent months to pursue an NBA team for St. Louis.
Doug Thornton, general manager of the New Orleans Arena, said officials planned to contact Heisley to gauge his interest in bringing his team to Louisiana.
Stern left a glimmer of hope the team could remain in Vancouver.
"My guess is there is a series of circumstances in which a team could survive and perhaps thrive there," he said. "But I'm not going to pound away at that."
In other news:
LEWIS: Ex-Sixers pick dies
Raymond Lewis, a first-round draft pick of the 76ers in 1973, has died in Los Angeles from complications following amputation of an infected leg. He was 48.
Lewis died Sunday at County-USC Medical Center, where he had been hospitalized for the last month.
Lewis, a 6-1 guard, never played in the NBA. He attended the 76ers' rookie camp, but after a contract dispute, the 76ers said Lewis walked out. Lewis was preparing to play for Utah, of the American Basketball Association, in 1974, but wasn't able to do so after the 76ers notified Utah that it was risking a lawsuit because Lewis was under contract.
Lewis returned to the 76ers' camp in 1975, but reportedly walked out again.
LAKERS: O'Neal update
Shaquille O'Neal, sidelined since Jan. 26 with a sprained right arch, went through a light practice with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Team spokesman John Black said it won't be known until today whether O'Neal will play tonight at New Jersey. The Sixers host the Lakers tomorrow.
HORNETS: Arena plan
The Hornets and Charlotte reached a tentative agreement on financing for a new uptown arena. The deal must be approved by the city council, which has been firm in saying it wants a voter referendum to decide the issue.
The timing of the referendum remains a sticking point in the negotiations. The city wants to hold it in November, the Hornets want it held before this summer.
Under the proposal, the city would pay up to $235 million to build the arena. The Hornets would pay the city $7 million a year for five years and 3 percent more every year after that until the end of the lease. That would cover both rent and naming rights, which the Hornets would then remarket. The city wants the Hornets to sign at least a 25-year lease.