NBA Mulls Expansion But It’s Not “On The Front Burner”

Given the large loss of revenue due to the pandemic, NBA commissioner Adam Silver admits the league is taking the possibility of expansion more seriously, according to USA Today’s Chris Bumbaca.

“It’s sort of the manifest destiny of the league that you expand at some point,” Silver said. “I’d say it’s caused us to maybe dust off some of the analyses on the economic and competitive impacts of expansion. We’ve been putting a little bit more time into it than we were pre-pandemic. But certainly not to the point that expansion is on the front burner.”

Silver has dismissed expansion in recent years, as ESPN’s Tim Bontemps notes (Twitter link).

The league hasn’t added a team since Charlotte came into the league in 2004. Seattle lost its franchise to Oklahoma City in 2008. Seattle is expected to get heavy consideration for a new franchise if the league expands again.

One of the issues with expansion, according to Silver, is that the league is already struggling with competitive balance.

“It’s not a secret that we don’t have 30 competitive teams at any given time right now when you go into the season, measured by likelihood of ability to win a championship,” he said.

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54 thoughts on “NBA Mulls Expansion But It’s Not “On The Front Burner”

  1. El Don

    How bad it would be to have 30 teams all competing to win, right?
    So many teams failing & falling short of their expectations!
    A good league will have a few teams ready to win it all, a bunch of competitive teams & a few teams that are gonna be real bad… & that is how a good league will operate!
    Seattle, San Diego & San Juan should be were the 2 new teams come from!

    • The Howler

      Watching your to team go from the dregs to champion is one of the great experiences that a fan can have. I have experienced that with the Packers and hope to with the Bucks. The Brewers look to be a ways away from winning a championship.

    • Tatsumaki

      Would prefer clippers to go back to San Diego if that’s the case. Think Seattle is a lock, Las Vegas or Vancouver are realistic seconds

    • shawn hemp

      As long as the SuperSonics are back in the green and yellow I’ll be happy

    • You said two new teams but listed three locations. Who would you dump out of that?

      • Tatsumaki

        Clippers simply relocate not an expansion. Two teams expanding would be Seattle and either Vancouver or Las Vegas.

        • x%sure

          Seattle AND Vancouver, no. The NBA forcing relocation, no. Vegas after they already got an NFL team, I hope no.

      • El Don

        I really liked all the 3 locations… so choosing 2 might be difficult, as of now I probably would leave out San Diego ’cause is very close to LA… but the league might not be ready to really explode the Hispanic market by opening shop in San Juan… so hard to say, only Seattle seems a lock to me!

  2. The Howler

    Add Seattle and Las Vegas to the West. Move Memphis and New Orleans to the East. Adds two up and coming teams to the East which might help equalize the the conferences a bit.

    • Michael Chaney

      I agree with this completely. I really think it would be cool for Louisville to get a team (obviously basketball is huge there and they could bring back the Kentucky Colonels), but that doesn’t seem likely and I think this is probably the best option anyway.

    • x%sure

      Agree, but Seattle and KC is better. KC & LV are both sports-mad but KC is bigger and also covers StLouis somewhat, like Seattle with Vancouver. Vegas is surrounded by dessert.

      • hiflew

        I was surrounded by dessert one time. I enjoyed the pies, but the cakes were a little stale.

      • Appalachian_Outlaw

        X, why does it matter that LV is surrounded by desert? Las Vegas is home to 2.7m people. KC is home to 500,000. That’s less than 1/5th of the Las Vegas population.

    • Appalachian_Outlaw

      Good stuff, Howler. I feel like that makes too much sense not to happen. That’s definitely what I’d like to see.

  3. anthonyd4412

    Basketball is big in the South. Why not Birmingham, Little Rock, Louisville?

    • I would like to see it as a fan, but Birmingham is the size of Rochester, NY. Little Rock is even smaller. Louisville seems like more of a college-type city.

      Plus there are a lot of places ahead of them. Seattle, St. Louis, Vegas, KC, etc. If they’re going to gamble on a location, Albuquerque could be decent (it’s fairly large and has no teams; could be similar to OKC).

      • Little_Dunker_45

        Those 3 cities combined wouldn’t make up the revenue they’d need to support an NBA franchise. Think bigger.

        • hiflew

          Revenue is only part of the equation. If bigger revenue is what you want then you put 2 new teams in New York City and be done. You’d make the most money. However, that would be very short-sighted.

          With expansion, you need to consider pockets of the country that are currently in need of developing a local fan base. Seattle already has a ready made base, but so does Louisville. Like Indiana, Kentucky is a basketball mad state as well. The Kentucky Colonels were one of the most successful ABA franchises that just got caught up in a numbers crunch during the NBA/ABA merger. We deserve a chance at an NBA franchise as much, or more than, Seattle or any other city that had their team taken.

          • Little_Dunker_45

            Lol New York city does have two teams…

            You are right in that it’s about growing a local fan base, but this isnt an upstart league looking to take a chance on some small city. They want sure things with big money that will deliver quickly. Any move to expand will be about revenue, not a good deed to grow the sport. There are other avenues for that.

            • hiflew

              That is why I said two NEW teams.

              I don’t think you understand what a “small city” is. When you factor in the two NY teams and the two LA teams, that means right now 27 US cities are represented in the NBA, along with Toronto. Two expansion teams would theoretically require the 28th and 29th biggest cities to be involved. Louisville is a very large city. It’s not New York, but it is the 29th most populous in the country and of the 300 largest populations, it is the 21st largest in area. Louisville is not exactly a little hamlet that has nothing but farmland and a little general store. It is bigger than Milwaukee, Atlanta, Sacramento, Miami, New Orleans, and Cleveland that are already in the league. And bigger than KC, Cincinnati, Omaha, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and several other “contenders” for expansion teams.

              Plus, there is the added factor that the NBA would be the only game in town. They wouldn’t have to compete with MLB, the NFL, or the NHL in the local market. Yeah, Cincinnati is close by, but I can speak as a Kentuckian that we don’t really like Cincinnati other than they are the closest big league teams.

  4. bumpy93

    Seattle, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Cincinnati, ST. Louis, Pittsburgh Baltimore should be the most likely cities to expand into. Not sure I want more canadian teams. I do think the Seattle then Las Vegas should be the first cities that should be awarded expansion franchises

    • newera36

      Being in Baltimore I’d love a team but it will never happen for 2 reasons, Our arena is a dump and we are extremely close to DC and Philadelphia. They need to be in cities that will attract revenue not take away from another city. Seattle and Vegas are the best options with New Orleans and Memphis moving to the East.

  5. sportsfan101

    Stop letting superstars dictate n build rosters n the competitive balance will even out. No other sport can you have 2-3 super stars agree to join up with n completely change what that team is capable off. Lebron started it n we’ve yet to see anyone stop it and by golly for the most part it’s always the same teams atop the standings bc of it.

    • Little_Dunker_45

      You mean like the good old days where either the Celtics or the Lakers won on a given year?
      Dont blame the stars. They are who we come to watch.

    • Billy Winters

      Typical hater, unwilling to look beyond the past 10 years. I am pretty sure that Shaq left Orlando and went to LA. Kareem left Milwaukee for LA. Lets not look to far back or it wont fit your storyline.

  6. Meadowlark

    A hard cap on salaries would help the competitive balance but that has no chance of happening. Until the playing field is evened out in some manner the big market guys will dominate with the clear exception of the Knickerbockers (Mercy what a constant mess in Gotham!)

  7. nentwigs

    “It’s not a secret that we don’t have 30 competitive teams at any given time right now when you go into the season, measured by likelihood of ability to win a championship,” he said.
    In the case of the Minnesota Timberpuppies, they have been competitively unbalanced since their inception in 1989 !!

  8. Little_Dunker_45

    Mark Cuban the goat was in bill simonds podcast talking about this. In the short term it is good infusion of cash, but as they have to share revenue and cut up the pie into smaller pieces it essentially becomes a loan. If the league wants to expand they are going to be looking at places that wont just fill the gap, but grow the game/footprint materially. I.e. not just giving basketball fans a different meal but getting more people in the restaurant. Do you dig?

    • x%sure

      Seattle & KansasCity would grow the footprint the most and adequately; a lot of cities would. Did Cuban try to prove they would not? He’s just taking the side he’s already on; being a capitalist and smushing new opposition, like he talks about on Shark Tank. He declines to invest because he’s already invested in a similar thing. Which is honest. But he’s not unbiased.

      Silver is more worried about being bored by watching games than anything else. The existing talent would be shallower with expansion, but the way the game is growing, more and more talent becomes available.

      • Little_Dunker_45

        He was not against it necessarily just did not believe it was the quick fix Bill was suggesting. Said he was for it but only when the time is right. ImO think Seattle probably a natural fit…think Cuban mentioned Vegas as well. Vegas is interesting because in normal situation seems like a growing spot but pandemic really f*** them in the a**** if you know what I mean. So not sure of tjay need time to regroup. Guess there will always been money in tje desert. Gambling, naked women, drinking…gomorrah.

      • Little_Dunker_45

        To your comment on boring games…Cuban also mentioned that highest rated sports have least actual game time and cited the NFL as an example. I dont think it’s as simple as less play = more eyes, but shortening the length of games is not out of the realm of conversation. Something to think about…

  9. natsfan3437

    They should add two western conference teams and move Memphis to the eastern conference.

  10. illowa

    how about a euro team. thinking outside the box here. set up a halfway home in ny to play half home games there and the other half across the atlantic.

    • Little_Dunker_45

      It’s not a bad idea but most other countries have their own leagues already. They may look into something around developmental leagues but it’s not like the NFL with potential team in London or mexico city.

  11. x%sure

    Cmon Silver, fans don’t need an imminent title to enjoy having a team in the NBA.

  12. harden (mvp),wall, and wood

    Oklahoma City can’t support a professional team for much longer. They will probably be forced to move back to Seattle and become the Seattle Rain.

  13. Gary Porter

    Hey, we are losing money. Let’s expand. That is not good business sense. A expansion team pays a huge fee to enter the league. They have to take the trash of the league in an expansion draft. More and more states are going to add casinos so Vegas will not be what it is now. Improve your product. Its 3 point shots all night long. They have taken the center out of the game and its boring. All sports are dying and have been for 5 years. Fans have been priced out. There’s much more you can watch now with Netflix. No more there is nothing on so let’s watch the game.

    • The Howler

      Basically, the farther a shot is from the basket the less chance it has to go in. The three point shot has created two areas of approx. equal value…less than 10 ft. and the 3 pt shot. Strategically, things are still in a state of flux. Quality bigs are always in short supply so the 3 pt. shot gives teams another avenue for success. Hakeem or Ewing or Kareem would still be important, HOF players in today’s NBA.

    • hiflew

      Sure it makes perfect business sense. Because new owners bring new money to the equation. Owners want to expand because new expansion owners are required to pay fees to all of the old owners. That’s why baseball expanded in 1998 after the strike cost the owners a lot of revenue.

  14. Meadowlark

    hiflew, hiflew, hiflew! Mark Twain is rolling over in his grave; liars, damned liars, and statistics. Lil ol’ Lousiville lost over 30% of it’s population between 1960 and 2000 then expanded city boundaries in 2003. Voila! Grew 133% in a single year. Tut, tut. Measure metro areas and Louisville drops like a stone. No NBA hoopaball for Louisville, but you may have a future in politics where disengenuity is an asset.

    • hiflew

      It’s still bigger and capable of becoming even bigger. Municipalities and nations have added territory for centuries. That’s how cities grow.

      And I have no future in politics because I don’t like people enough. In politics you have to hate one side and love the other, whereas I think both sides are idiots and I wouldn’t want to serve either.

      • Meadowlark

        Impressed with your straightforwardness! You can take a good natured tease well. “Idiots” is a bit strong, but yes both sides are more than a little disingenuous. “Life Is A Carnival” and both sides are barkers.

        • hiflew

          Perhaps I did go a little strong there. What I should have said is that both sides have a large chunk of idiots among them. Trump had absolutely no tact and said it at the absolute worst possible time, but he was correct that both the extreme right and extreme left do have good people involved. Most of their ideas are not good, but at heart some of them are basically good.

          As far as teases go, I have always viewed it as if I want to do it (which I do), I better be able to take it as well.

  15. redkloud94

    Add Seattle and Las Vegas or Kansas City; move pelicans & Memphis out East

  16. McBeers

    I would pick Seattle and London. The value of those franchises would be tremendous. I would trust that you would be able to figure out the travel issues associated with London.

    Also, if I were the players association, I would insist that the players own or be able to purchase equity in all new franchises. They have a lot of power and I am sure they would like to benefit from the huge increases in equity value.

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