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NBA Considering Possibility Of Expansion?

As the NBA and NBPA work toward finalizing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the league is also reportedly considering the possibility of expansion, according to Kevin Nesgoda of While no NBA teams are expected to relocate anytime soon, the league apparently hasn’t ruled out the possibility of moving into a new (or old) market via expansion.

According to Nesgoda, he asked dozens of media and league sources whether NBA expansion is on the table, and the overwhelming majority suggested the possibility is being discussed. Nothing is certain at this point, but Nesgoda hears that Seattle remains on the league’s radar. Nesgoda identifies Louisville, Pittsburgh, Omaha, Las Vegas, Vancouver, and Mexico City as other cities that could attempt to vie for a franchise if given the opportunity.

The possibility of expansion is an interesting one for the NBA, particularly if there’s a city with an NBA-ready arena prepared to make a play for a team. Unlike Major League Baseball, where teams play nearly every day, the NBA could conceivably function with an odd number of teams, so adding a single franchise would be realistic. That scenario would dilute the league-wide talent pool slightly, but not significantly enough to have a real impact on the quality of play.

As Nesgoda cautions, there are still plenty of roadblocks between NBA expansion becoming a reality in Seattle or another city, even if the league were to open up bidding. A potential ownership group would require the land, the funding, and the approval for an NBA arena in order to be taken seriously as a potential location for a franchise. Still, it’s something worth keeping an eye on as the league and the players’ union negotiate a new CBA deal.

And-Ones: Drummond, Seattle, D-League, Griffin

Now that we’re more than two weeks into the 2016/17 league year, Bobby Marks of The Vertical takes a look back at this year’s spending spree and attempts to draw some conclusions about the impact of the $94MM+ salary cap. As Marks outlines, the salary cap spike has resulted in 10 teams with $100MM+ payrolls so far, but has made the luxury tax a virtual non-factor. Marks also observes that if the players’ union had accepted the NBA’s cap smoothing proposal, we likely wouldn’t have seen so much roster turnover this offseason, since more teams would’ve been inclined to keep their own free agents.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the league:

  • Andre Drummond‘s new five-year max deal with the Pistons includes an 8% trade kicker, league sources tell Marc Stein of (Twitter link). Players earning a max salary can’t exceed that salary via a trade kicker, but with the salary cap set to get another bump next year and in subsequent seasons, Drummond will technically be earning less than his max after the first year of the contract.
  • Steve Ballmer, who was part of the group attempting to bring the NBA back to Seattle before he bought the Clippers, doesn’t envision Seattle getting a franchise in the near future. Speaking at the Geek Wire Sports Technology Summit in Seattle, Ballmer said the NBA hasn’t had expansion talks at all recently, and added that the league “has really moved to favor teams staying in their current markets.” Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times has the quotes from the Clippers owner.
  • The D-League won’t see the same sort of league-wide salary increase that the NBA will in 2016/17, but the D-League is changing its salary structure, and players will earn more on the whole, as Chris Reichert of details.
  • Sam Gardner of FOX Sports takes an in-depth look at former Campbell forward Eric Griffin, whose quest for a spot on an NBA roster was derailed when he was accused of attempted murder — those charges were dropped last month, and Griffin is still looking for a team willing to give him a shot.

And-Ones: Seattle, Cavs, Whiteside, Draft

The Seattle City Council dealt a major blow to hopes that the city will be the home of an NBA team any time soon, voting 5-4 against a measure that would have given developer Chris Hansen control of an alley on the spot where he’s seeking to build an arena, reports Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. The chances of a revival for the SuperSonics within the near future have seemed remote anyway, though we invited your discussion on the idea of expansion in Monday’s Community Shootaround. See more from around the NBA:

  • Trade acquisition Channing Frye has given the Cavaliers a “breath of fresh air,” GM David Griffin told Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal amid an interview last week in which he disputes the idea of chemistry problems in the locker room. Frye has seen sharply limited playing time in the postseason but had his best game of the playoffs Monday, scoring eight points in nine minutes of action. “He’s been a huge, huge plus,” Griffin said. “We needed someone who was truly joyful to be part of the process to remind everybody how blessed we are to be together.”
  • Griffin also lauded soon-to-be free agent James Jones for his leadership, calling him a special player, Ridenour notes.
  • Hassan Whiteside doesn’t harbor ill feelings toward the Raptors for declining to bring him to training camp after he played for Toronto’s summer league team in 2014, believing the July stint, which was his first brush with the NBA in two years, led to other opportunities that helped revive his career months later, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. The Heat center is No. 10 in our latest 2016 Free Agent Power Rankings.
  • Draft prospects Brice Johnson, Malik Beasley, A.J. Hammons, Fred VanVleet, Kaleb Tarczewski and Rasheed Sulaimon have all signed with Andy Miller’s ASM Sports agency, as Jeff Goodman of relays (Twitter link).
  • Spanish small forward Santiago Yusta is officially eligible for this year’s draft despite his absence from the list of early entrants the NBA sent out last week, the league announced. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress pegs the 6’7″ 18-year-old as the 32nd-best overseas prospect among those born in 1997.

And-Ones: Suns, Fisher, Satoransky, Bennett

Suns owner Robert Sarver said he’s committed to keeping GM Ryan McDonough for next season and optimistic about the team’s position for the future, in an extensive interview with Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Sarver referred to rookie Devin Booker as a potential face of the franchise and also expressed belief in fellow recent first-round picks Alex Len, T.J. Warren and Archie Goodwin. The owner maintains faith in disappointing offseason signee Tyson Chandler, believing that he’ll perform better next season, when he’ll be 34. Still, Sarver insisted that he’ll leave matters of player personnel to McDonough and company, even as he feels a responsibility to set the tone.

“My biggest regret is that, as a manager of people, I feel I let the organization down in terms of the culture,” Sarver said to Coro. “I didn’t put my hand print on that culture and maybe didn’t hold people as accountable as I should and really make sure we’re putting that together. But I’m starting to see some of that.”

Sarver also stumped for public funding of a new arena and pointed to a clause in the team’s lease at Talking Stick Resort Arena, its existing home, that would allow the Suns to leave in 2021, as Coro relays. See more from around the NBA, which has seen the last of referee Joey Crawford, as Steve Aschburner of reports:

  • Derek Fisher insists he didn’t lose his job as Knicks coach over character or integrity issues, as he writes in an essay for The Cauldron blog on Fisher addressed his preseason encounter with Matt Barnes at the home of Barnes’ estranged wife, writing that he didn’t retaliate against Barnes during the incident and that he never had issues or much of a relationship with Barnes before that. Still, Fisher failed to address why he was in California and away from the Knicks when the episode took place, notes Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News (Twitter link).
  • It’s still possible for the Wizards to sign draft-and-stash prospect Tomas Satoransky this summer even in the wake of the four-year extension he signed with Barcelona of Spain, which doesn’t include an NBA out until 2017, a source tells Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post. The Wizards could buy out Satoransky’s contract before the extension kicks in, Castillo hears, adding that Washington would likely sign him to a two-year deal with a team option on the second season if the team brings him stateside.
  • Luis Scola‘s professionalism is well-known around the league, and Anthony Bennett, cognizant his NBA career was teetering on the brink, sought out his advice not long before the Raptors waived the former No. 1 overall pick last week, team sources tell Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. The release of Bennett was an eye-opener, rookie Delon Wright said, as Smith also notes in his look at the roles of nonstars in the NBA.

And-Ones: Bucks, Oden, McRoberts, Nets

A new arena for the Bucks moved one step closer to reality today, when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a bill that calls for $250MM of public financing, write Mary Spicuzza And Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Walker has long backed the arena project and said when the bill emerged from the state legislature late last month that he’d sign it. The team must still arrange for a land sale with Milwaukee County and receive approval for construction from the Milwaukee Common Council, Spicuzza and Stein note, but Bucks executives have said that can take place between now and the fall. Groundbreaking must take place soon for the team to stay on schedule to meet a league-imposed deadline, lest the league seize the franchise from its owners and move it elsewhere, but today’s news indicates that the Bucks remain on track to stay in Milwaukee. Here’s more from around the league:

  • Former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden will take part in a weeklong workout later this month for Jiangsu Kentier of the Chinese Basketball Association, the Altius Culture agency tweets. It’ll constitute an audition for the team, the agency indicates. He reportedly drew eyes from the Mavs, Hornets and Grizzlies early in the summer.
  • Josh McRoberts had a frustrating, injury-riddled year for the Heat last season after his breakout campaign for Charlotte in 2013/14, and the subtraction of his nearly $5.544MM salary would go a long way toward preventing the Heat from paying repeater tax penalties this season. Still, he’s eager to return to playing in Miami, as he tells Kyle Neddenriep of his hometown Indianapolis Star“I feel confident and comfortable going back there,” McRoberts said. “I kind of saw how things were last year. I’m excited to be back and part of the team because when you’re hurt, you are kind of isolated on your own. You’re not practicing and playing in games with them every day. I’ve worked with the coaches throughout the summer different times and feel good about the direction we’re headed.”
  • Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov agreed to push back today’s deadline for minority owner Bruce Ratner to pay back his company’s debts to Prokhorov’s company, reports Scott Soshnick of (Twitter links). Ratner’s group now has until September 8th to pay or let their 20% share become 8%, with Prokhorov’s group taking over the other 12%.

Bucks Arena Plan Clears Major Hurdle

2:24pm: Walker said today that he’d sign the bill, note Stein and Journal Sentinel colleague Patrick Marley. Feigen expressed measured confidence and said it’s possible for the funding to be secured in time for an autumn groundbreaking.

12:48pm: The public funding plan for a new Bucks arena in Milwaukee has received approval from the Wisconsin State Assembly by a 52-34 vote, reports Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). The measure passed the state senate two weeks ago and now heads to Governor Scott Walker for his signature. Walker has consistently supported the idea of a new building that would keep the team from leaving town.

Should Walker sign the bill, which seems a likely proposition, Milwaukee County must authorize the purchase of the land for the building and the City of Milwaukee must negotiate a lease, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. State, county and city leaders have been under pressure from the league to make sure an arena is ready by the start of the 2017/18 season, with the NBA having threatened to take the team away from owners Marc Lasry, Wesley Edens and Jamie Dinan and sell it to others who would move the team. The public is on the hook for half of the arena’s expected $500MM cost.

Bucks president Peter Feigin released a statement hailing today’s vote. Still, progress toward the arena has been somewhat slow-going, as Brian Windhorst of wrote in April that the Bucks and civic leaders faced a realistic deadline of June to secure funding. The legislature separated the arena bill from the state budget package last month, a move that bought more time. Windhorst nonetheless indicated that groundbreaking must take place this fall for the plan to remain on schedule.

And-Ones: Las Vegas, Motum, Taylor, Lockout

The success of the summer league in Las Vegas has created hopes that the city may one day have its own NBA team, writes Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Former commissioner David Stern planted the seed during a 2007 meeting with Mayor Oscar Goodman, and the annual summertime gathering has strengthened the city’s position. The 20,000-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena is large enough to house an NBA franchise, and the NHL has started to break down the Las Vegas barrier, announcing recently that the city is a candidate for a future expansion team, along with Seattle and Quebec City. City officials should be patient, though. Celtics president Rich Gotham pointed out that the league has no immediate plans for expansion and that sentiment remains high to put a team in Seattle.

There’s more from around the world of basketball:

  • The Jazz have offered a partially guaranteed contract to forward Brock Motum, tweets Angus Crawford of Team officials were impressed by his play in the summer league. Motum is “strongly” considering Utah’s offer, but is also listening to teams in Europe (Twitter link).
  • Former Hornet Jeffery Taylor has turned down an offer from Maccabi of the Israeli Premier League, tweets David Pick of The news was relayed by Taylor’s agent, Todd Ramasar.
  • The new contract that Miroslav Raduljica signed with Panathinaikos in the Greek League includes a $500K escape clause, according to Pick (Twitter link). The Serbian briefly played for the Wolves last season.
  • The NBA is risking its historic success with tough labor talk, writes Tim Bontemps of The New York Post. Both the league and the players’ union issued statements this week, reminding everyone that a potential lockout is just two years away.
  • Sixteen teams still have not used their $2.814MM room exception, tweets former Nets executive Bobby Marks.

Latest On Bucks’ New Arena

WEDNESDAY, 6:18pm: The Milwaukee State Senate passed the arena funding bill by a vote of 21-10, and now the proposal will go before the State Assembly for ratification, Jason Stein and Patrick Marley of The Journal Sentinel report. “This deal has taken a lot of work but the Bucks are big bucks for Wisconsin,” said Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), who voted for the plan. “It’s not been easy. It’s not been pretty. But finally we’ve all been at the table.” Bucks team president Peter Feigin released this statement on behalf of the team: “Today’s vote is a significant step forward in our collective effort to build a new sports and entertainment district in Wisconsin. We appreciate the bipartisan leadership in Madison for bringing this transformative partnership one step closer to reality. We’re optimistic that this financing package will receive support in the Assembly and look forward to working with state, county and city officials.

MONDAY, 10:55pm: Plans for a new Bucks arena in Milwaukee face another key hurdle, with the Wisconsin State Senate poised to vote as early as this week on whether to approve the latest public funding proposal, TNT’s David Aldridge writes as part of his Morning Tip column for The league previously received a commitment from new owners Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan, as part of the Bucks’ 2013 sale agreement, that they would work out a deal with the city and state to build a new arena in Milwaukee by 2017, and the league remains committed to the deadline, Aldridge notes. If a new arena is not ready by opening night of the 2017/18 season or doesn’t appear to be on track to meet that goal, the league has the right to buy back the team and put it on the open market, which would presumably include buyers who would move the team out of Milwaukee.

The current ownership group has combined to pledge $150MM toward the construction of the building and former owner Herb Kohl has pledged $100MM toward it. Those totals represent roughly half of what a new arena will cost, so funding remains an obstacle.

The state legislature removed the arena bill, which called for $250MM in public funds to be used toward construction of the arena, from the state’s budget process last week, Aldridge notes. The budget was passed, but the funding of a new building for the Bucks was not addressed, as Aldridge details.

Bucks President Peter Feigin told the state assembly last week that if there is no agreement with the city and state in place over the next few months, the likelihood of the team ultimately moving out of Milwaukee is strong, Aldridge notes.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who officially entered the 2016 presidential race earlier today, several weeks ago announced the latest plan, which would use various public funding mechanisms to help foot the cost of the arena on a site north of the team’s current arena, according to Aldridge. Getting a deal done was always a goal of Walker’s. With his hat in the ring for the GOP nomination, keeping the team in Milwaukee, along with the good press that it would bring, may be an even greater priority for him, although that is simply my speculation.

The proposal would have the city of Milwaukee kicking in $47MM, with Milwaukee County kicking in another $55MM, Aldridge notes. The bulk of the remaining funding would come through new debt issuance by the Wisconsin Center District, a governmental body in charge of several downtown Milwaukee venues, Aldridge explains. That Center District funding is estimated to be $93MM, Aldridge writes.

The majority of the Republican-controlled state legislature supports the arena measure, Aldridge adds, but the bill will need the support of several Democratic state senators. Among their concerns is the new debt that would be assumed by the Center District, Aldridge notes.

Potential buyers of the Bucks, should the team be put on the open market, are keeping a close eye on the situation, as Aldridge points out. Hedge fund billionaire Chris Hansen, who led the group in 2013 that nearly bought the Kings and relocated them to Seattle, is working to bring an NHL team to Seattle. Hansen’s hope is that if he can get a new arena built to house the NHL team, it would help the city bring an NBA team back to town.

The Bucks understand the deadline that the NBA set is fast approaching.

“I don’t think this is a well-kept secret in the state of Wisconsin,” Feigin told Aldridge. “…The NBA, as part of the purchase agreement, put language in to make us build a new arena within a set time frame. That is not new news. We’ve been up front about that. I think the timing of it, and the reality of it when it’s the ninth inning, that people might misconstrue that as leverage or threatening. It’s not. It’s just the fact that for the Bucks to stay in the state of Wisconsin, we will need to construct a new arena.”

The Bucks have taken huge strides in becoming a legitimate contender. Every day that goes by without a funding deal for a new arena in Milwaukee increases the likelihood that this up-and-coming team will reach its peak in a different city.

Central Notes: Prigioni, Bucks Arena, Draft

The Cavaliers made an aggressive play at trading for Pablo Prigioni at the deadline, a source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post. Instead, the Knicks sent him to the Rockets instead, leaving Cleveland’s backup point guard duties to Matthew Dellavedova. That worked out just fine for the Cavs on Sunday, when Dellavedova, set for restricted free agency this summer, started in place of the injured Kyrie Irving and hit the game-winning free throws. There’s more on the Cavs, who’ll look to take the lead in the Finals on Tuesday, amid the latest from the Central Division:

  • The deal that state, county and city leaders struck last week for a new Bucks arena must still meet Wisconsin Legislature and Milwaukee Common Council approval, so construction remains far from assured, as Tom Daykin of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out. Still, the Bucks have promised to pay for operating and maintenance costs by selling naming rights, as Daykin examines. The NBA is pressuring the sides to ensure a new building, lest the league exercise its right to buy the team and move it to another city.
  • UNLV power forward Christian Wood will be among those working out for the Cavs today, league sources tell Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (Twitter link).
  • Scotto also hears that Syracuse big man Rakeem Christmas will show off for the Pistons today (Twitter link). North Carolina shooting guard J.P. Tokoto, Virginia power forward Darion Atkins, Georgetown small forward Greg Whittington, and point guards Marcus Thornton from William & Mary and Pierria Henry of Charlotte will be in Detroit’s workout, too, according to Keith Langlois of (Twitter links).

Bucks, Milwaukee Leaders Near Arena Deal

Bucks team president Peter Feigin and Milwaukee leaders all said today that sides are close to a deal for the public’s share of funding for a new Bucks arena in the city, Scott Bauer of The Associated Press reports. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker expressed the same sentiments at the beginning of the month, though negotiations continue. Feigin and city leaders expressed optimism today that talks can result in a deal by the end of the week, and a key state legislator said the goal is to announce a deal Wednesday, Bauer tweets, though Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett added that there’s still work to be done, as Bauer writes in his story.

The Bucks face an NBA-imposed deadline to have an arena ready by opening night in 2017, and funding has to be secured by June in order for the project to remain on track, as Brian Windhorst of wrote recently. The league, should it determine at any point that the arena effort is not moving swiftly enough, intends to exercise its right to seize the team from owners Wesley Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan and seek to move it elsewhere, according to Windhorst. Commissioner Adam Silver has nonetheless publicly maintained confidence that public funding will come.

Feigin backed off an assertion in late April that a deal for public funding had to be done within 10 days from that point. State, county and city leaders have been squabbling over how to finance their $250MM share of the proposed $500MM arena. The Bucks owners, as well as former owner principal owner Herb Kohl, have committed the other $250MM.

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