City of Mexico City

And-Ones: Mexico, Silver, Wall, Harding, Knight, Jackson

Commissioner Adam Silver dropped a hint that the league would consider having an NBA franchise in Mexico City, ESPN’s Eric Gomez writes.

“We see this as a gateway, essentially, to the rest of Latin America,” Silver said of the city. “We think, whether it be additional G League franchises in Mexico City and ultimately a larger footprint here in Latin America or ultimately the dream of an NBA franchise coming to Mexico City one day.”

Silver added that the league would definitely play another game or two in Mexico City next season. Orlando and Atlanta played there last week.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • In his latest notebook on Substack, Marc Stein confirms that free agent John Wall remains focused on trying to find another NBA opportunity, as he suggested last week. Wall practiced with the South East Melbourne Phoenix on a recent trip to Australia since he’s part of the franchise’s ownership group, but he’s not looking to play there. Wall appeared in 34 games with the Clippers last season.
  • Former WNBA star Lindsey Harding — the only woman currently serving as a head coach of an American men’s professional basketball team — made history as the first female NBA or G League coach in the Stockton Kings’ opener on Friday, The Athletic’s Joe Vardon notes. Nancy Lieberman served as head coach for the Texas Legends, the Mavericks’ affiliate, from 2009-11 when the minor league was called the D League.
  • Italy’s Happy Casa Brindisi has shown interest in former NBA guard Brandon Knight, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Knight, who appeared in 451 NBA regular season games, was most recently in the NBA during the 2021/22 season, when he played five games with Dallas.
  • Another former NBA guard, Frank Jackson, is expected to part ways with France’s ASVEL Villeurbanne, according to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews. Jackson, who has appeared in six EuroLeague games, missed the EuroLeague derby against AS Monaco last week and was absent in the French league game against Dijon over the weekend. Jackson played one game with Utah last season and saw action in 53 games with Detroit the previous season.

Southeast Notes: Herro, Rozier, Miller, Mexico City

Heat guard Tyler Herro expects to miss “probably a couple weeks” after spraining his right ankle in Wednesday’s game at Memphis, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Herro landed on Jaren Jackson Jr.‘s foot after shooting a floater in the first quarter. He fell to the court in pain, then hobbled to the locker room without putting any weight on the ankle.

“It was something I felt right when it happened,” Herro said. “I felt it and I kind of knew mentally. I heard some crunches and cracks in my ankle. I’m like, ‘Yeah, that will be it.’ I actually told the bench, ‘I’m done. I can’t keep going.’ It’s unfortunate, but I’m just going to continue to work hard. I’ve been through this injury stuff before and I’m just going to keep working.”

X-rays were negative, but Herro returned to Miami this morning for an MRI with the team’s medical staff, Chiang adds. He was averaging 25.3 PPG coming into Wednesday, and an extended absence would create a major challenge for a team that already has the fifth-worst offensive rating in the league.

Duncan Robinson started the second half with Herro unavailable, and Dru Smith played nearly 15 minutes off the bench. Chiang notes that Kyle Lowry took on a larger role, posting season highs with 17 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

“It’s a process at this point,” Bam Adebayo said. “We’ll get him back when we get him back. The biggest thing for him is getting healthy and being able to stay at that high level he’s been at it.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets guard Terry Rozier doesn’t have a timetable to return from the left adductor strain he suffered Saturday night, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Addressing the media for the first time since the injury, Rozier said it happened on a routine play. “It was just going downhill,” said Rozier, who has already been ruled out for Friday’s game. “I think just trying to do an in-and-out. I’ve watched the play a lot of times and I think I just dragged my foot, and it kind of tweaked in the groin area. So, it kind of strained it and that’s what happened. But I’ve never had an injury like that before, so that’s why I kind of reacted like that. But I’ll be fine.”
  • With Rozier sidelined, the Hornets have inserted Brandon Miller into their starting lineup, Boone adds. The No. 2 overall pick has gotten off to a strong start and is among the rookie leaders in points, rebounds, assists and minutes per game. “He’s doing good,” Rozier said. “He’s just getting his feet wet. He’s one of those guys that just gets better day-by-day, like really huge too. So, I’m happy to see his growth … I think we all are. I’m happy he’s in that position to start.” 
  • Mexico City will host tonight’s game between the Magic and the Hawks, shining a spotlight on a location that could be considered for the NBA’s next round of expansion, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

Adam Silver Addresses Expansion As NBA Returns To Mexico City

Commissioner Adam Silver received several questions about expansion before the Heat and Spurs played Saturday in Mexico City, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The league used to travel to Mexico frequently, but because of the pandemic, today marked the first NBA game in the country since 2019.

At a news conference prior to tip-off, Silver was peppered with questions about Mexico City someday being considered for an expansion team. His responses echoed comments made by NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum last month, saying the league isn’t ready to add teams, but the city will be a strong contender whenever that happens.

“In terms of Mexico City, I believe you’re doing all the things necessary to demonstrate to the league that ultimately we may be in position to house an NBA team here,” Silver said. “Certainly from a travel standpoint it’s very accessible, time zone wise, of course.”

Mexico City has hosted more than 30 NBA games in a relationship with the league that spans three decades. The G League’s Mexico City Capitanes recently began playing in Arena CDMX, which is considered to be an NBA-quality facility.

Silver cited research showing there are 30 million NBA fans in Mexico and said he hopes that number will increase as the country gets more media access to games.

“I’ll add one factor that I wouldn’t have thought of even when I was here in 2019,” Silver said. “We’re seeing a faster transformation to streaming than I would have predicted even a few years ago, and when you move to streaming platforms and you’re talking to these partners that are very much global, I think the addition of a team, for example, in Mexico might have a very different impact and relevance to them than maybe a historical U.S.-based media partner.”

Many of the players who participated in this year’s trip to Mexico City were impressed by what they saw, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. On Friday, they attended a Capitanes game where the crowd cheered intensely from start to finish while beating drums and chanting the team’s name.

“It was crazy,” said Spurs rookie Blake Wesley. “I was like, ‘How is it this many people for a G League game?’ I enjoyed it. It was fun.”

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who has been involved in many of the NBA games in Mexico, believes the city has earned consideration when the league decides to expand.

“That’s above my pay grade to decide where the teams go, but I know they love it,” he said. “It’s a viable place for such an endeavor, and I have no doubt that Adam and his crew are doing everything they can to decide whether that should happen.”

NBA Views Mexico City As Viable Expansion Candidate

The NBA has repeatedly and consistently stated that expanding beyond the league’s current 30 teams isn’t on the docket for now, with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and a new television rights deal to work out first. But if and when the league seriously explores the idea of expansion, Mexico City is viewed as a viable candidate for a team, according to Marc J. Spears of Andscape.

“Expansion is currently not on the docket, but at some point, if we were to turn to expansion, there’s no doubt that Mexico City would have to be one the cities that would be in consideration along with a host of other very big and relevant cities in North America,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told Spears. “One of the biggest challenges around international expansion has always been the travel issues, the facility issues. But there is a world-class facility in Mexico City in Arena CDMX, which is where we’ve been playing our games and our global games in Mexico. And that’s actually the home of the G League team, the Capitanes. And so that’s not an issue.

“And the travel is not an issue. It’s a pretty short flight for several of our teams, particularly our Texas teams, our Florida teams, our New Orleans team. Arizona actually is a pretty short flight. So, those are all the kinds of things that we would take into consideration, and for those reasons you’d have to consider it. But again, I’d say it’s not immediately on the docket right now.”

There has, of course, never been an NBA franchise located outside the United States or Canada, but there are several reasons why Mexico City – the sixth-largest city in the world and the largest in North America – could be a compelling spot for a team, as Spears explains.

The NBA has played 30 exhibition and regular season games in Mexico City over the last three decades, and there has been enthusiastic fan support so far for the G League’s Mexico City Capitanes, who played their first true home game on Sunday following a multiyear delay related to COVID-19. The city’s Arena CDMX, where the Capitanes play, is an “NBA-quality” building, per Tatum.

Additionally, as Spears notes, a Mexico City franchise would enjoy the support not just of a city or region, but of an entire country, in the same way that Toronto’s team has fans across Canada. Capitanes games air in Mexico on Star+ and ESPN Mexico, which makes them the only NBA-affiliated team besides the Raptors to have a national TV deal.

According to Spears, the biggest questions about a possible Mexico City franchise would be related to player safety, but Tatum and G League officials downplayed those concerns, and NBAGL players who spoke to Andscape and have played in Mexico City said they felt safe in the Polanco neighborhood of the city, which is where Capitanes players live and visiting players stay.

“Mexico life has been great,” said former NBA lottery pick Jahlil Okafor, who currently plays center for the Capitanes. “I’m here with my fiancée. We go to a lot of restaurants and I’m working on my craft trying to get better. I feel extremely safe. I haven’t had any worries. I’m in Polanco, which is one of the best neighborhoods. So, I definitely feel safe.”

Former NBA forward Eduardo Najera is among those who has been advocating for NBA expansion to Mexico City, according to Spears.

“Mexico has been ready for quite some time,” Najera said. “If you look at the metrics and the fans here in Mexico City alone, it’s quite significant. If you do it the right way, an NBA team can galvanize an entire (country). We’re ready. Certainly, the G League is the first step. It is going to be up to the baby steps. If NBA fans in Mexico support this, it will be great to have the big boys here.”

Seattle and Las Vegas have been the two cities most frequently cited as possible expansion locations for when the NBA revisits the possibility.

Heat, Spurs To Play In Mexico City In December

The NBA will return to Mexico City this season for the first time since 2019, with the league confirming in a press release that the Heat and Spurs will play a regular season game at the Arena CDMX on December 17.

According to the NBA, the game will be the league’s 31st in Mexico over the last three decades — the Rockets and Mavericks played the first preseason game in Mexico back in 1992. The Spurs, who will likely be the “home” team, have made an effort to market themselves in the country in recent years, having also participated in games in Mexico in 2017 and 2019.

“We have played six games in Mexico City and every time thousands of Spurs fans showed up, making us feel loved and right at home,” Spurs CEO RC Buford said in a statement. “We are grateful for our loyal fans in Mexico and are thrilled for the opportunity to play in front of them as part of our 50th anniversary season. This is one way we continue to purposefully engage and celebrate our growing number of fans in Mexico.”

The COVID-19 pandemic derailed the NBA’s plans to play in international markets during the last couple seasons, but the league appears set to make up for lost time in 2022/23. In addition to the Mexico City showcase, the NBA has also announced a regular season game in Paris, as well as preseason contests in Abu Dhabi and Tokyo.

And-Ones: 2022 Free Agents, M. Richardson, Capitanes

In his early look at 2022’s top free agents, John Hollinger of The Athletic ranks Bulls guard Zach LaVine as the No. 1 player in next year’s class, ahead of stars like Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Nets guard James Harden. As Hollinger explains, LaVine will be just 27 years old when he reaches free agency, which means his next contract is a good bet to cover his prime years. Beal will be 29 and Harden will be entering his age-33 season, so the final seasons of long-term deals would be a little riskier in those cases — especially for Harden.

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

  • Former NBA first-round pick Malachi Richardson is continuing his professional career in Poland, having signed with King Wilki Morskie Szczecin, according to the team. The 22nd overall pick in the 2016 draft, Richardson hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2018/19 season and most recently suited up in Italy.
  • Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Mexico City Capitanes’ first season in the NBA G League has them based out of an apartment complex in Fort Worth, Texas without a home arena. Scott Cacciola of The New York Times takes a closer look at an unusual start for the G League’s first Mexican franchise, which won’t actually play in Mexico in 2021/22.
  • With the Lakers and Knicks set to face one another in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, Sopan Deb of The New York Times explores why Sportico and Forbes have given both teams valuations north of $5 billion and why the value of a big-market franchise like the Lakers or Knicks isn’t really dependent on whether or not they’re winning.

G League’s Mexico City Team To Play In U.S. In 2021/22

As expected, the Mexico City Capitanes will indeed be joining the NBA G League for the 2021/22 season, but they won’t be playing their home games in Mexico, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As Charania explains, ongoing restrictions on international travel related to the coronavirus will prevent the Capitanes from playing in Mexico City in ’21/22. The Raptors found themselves in a similar situation last season, forced to play their home games in Tampa instead of Toronto due to the governmental rules on travel between the U.S. and Canada.

The Capitanes will be based in Fort Worth, Texas for practice and housing purposes in 2021/22, according to Marc Stein of Substack (Twitter link). League sources tell Stein that the team will play all its games in “existing league markets.”

It’s unclear if that means the Capitanes will simply play all their games at their opponent’s arenas, or if they’ll host their home games at nearby arenas if and when they’re available. The Texas Legends (Frisco), Austin Spurs (Austin), and Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Edinburg) are among the other NBAGL teams based in Texas. The Oklahoma City Blue’s home arena also isn’t too far from Fort Worth.

The NBA has yet to formally confirm its plans for the Mexico City Capitanes in 2021/22, but with the G League season inching closer, an official announcement should be coming soon and should provide more clarity on where the club’s home games will take place.

The addition of the Capitanes to the G League for the 2021/22 season means the NBAGL will have 30 teams for the first time — 28 of them are affiliated with NBA clubs. We provided more info on those affiliations last week.

G League To Launch Franchise In Mexico Next Season

The NBA G League will launch its new franchise in Mexico City next season, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The team’s nickname is the Capitanes.

Nick Lagios, who has worked for the Lakers‘ South Bay affiliate since 2016, will serve as the team’s GM, Charania adds. Lagios expressed his excitement about running the franchise in an Instagram post.

“It’s an absolute dream to be named the first GM of the Mexico City Capitanes. We will play in the (G League) starting next season,” Lagios wrote. “This is the first Mexican team ever in a USA sports league, which is an honor to be a part of. I hope we can make all of Mexico and Latin America proud and elevate basketball within central and South America. Laker family, I will miss you all but I won’t be leaving LA quite yet!!”

The original announcement that the NBA would add a G League franchise in Mexico City was made in December 2019. The pandemic pushed back the inaugural season by one year.

The Capitanes will play their home games at Gimnasio Juan de la Barrera, an arena that holds about 5,000 fans, and will spend at least the next five years in the G League. They  won’t be affiliated with a specific NBA franchise.

By bringing aboard a franchise like Capitanes that has an existing infrastructure – including a home arena and an ownership group – the NBA was able to expedite the process.

And-Ones: Franchise Valuations, G League, Two-Way Deals

We’re likely still a few weeks away from Forbes’ publication of its annual NBA franchise valuations, which are typically revealed during the first half of February. However, new sports-business website Sportico has gotten the jump on Forbes in 2021, trying its hand at projecting the values of all 30 NBA teams.

According to Peter J. Schwartz of Sportico, the average NBA franchise is worth nearly $2.4 billion. That projection dipped slightly as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, since teams around the league have missed out on anticipated revenues as a result of playing without fans. However, the fact that the NBA’s national revenues have remained relatively stable means Sportico’s projected valuations have only dipped about two percent.

In Sportico’s view, the Knicks ($5.42 billion), Warriors ($5.21 billion), and Lakers ($5.14 billion) are far and away the most valuable NBA franchises, followed by the Nets ($3.4 billion) at No. 4. The Pelicans ($1.35 billion), Grizzlies ($1.36 billion), and Timberwolves ($1.43 billion) are at the other end of the spectrum.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA G League announced in December of 2019 that it would be expanding to Mexico City for 2020/21, but given the circumstances surrounding this season, the Capitanes franchise won’t be debuting now after all. While the league has been quiet about its plans for that Mexico-based franchise, the club is now expected to begin playing in the NBAGL in 2021/22, says Marc Stein of The New York Times.
  • Although most coaches and general managers around the NBA support the idea of giving teams a third two-way contract slot – an idea being discussed by the league and the players’ union – some would have liked to see a different tweak made to the two-way rules, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “We are in support of (the proposal),” a Western Conference GM said. “But (we) might prefer to have current two-ways with unlimited game-day restrictions.” Players on two-way contracts are limited to being active for 50 of 72 games this season.
  • In an interesting article for HoopsHype, Michael Scotto explores the “art of the smokescreen,” speaking to agents and team executives about why they might be motivated to leak information to reporters.

NBA G League Expanding To Mexico City

The NBA G League will have a franchise based in Mexico City beginning in 2020/21, the league announced on Thursday night in a press release. According to the NBA’s announcement, the professional team Capitanes, which is currently part of Mexico’s Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional (LNBP), will join the G League next season, making it the 29th NBAGL franchise.

“Bringing an NBA G League team to Mexico City is a historic milestone for the NBA which demonstrates our commitment to basketball fans in Mexico and across Latin America,” commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “As the first G League franchise based outside of the U.S. and Canada, we look forward to welcoming Capitanes to the NBA family.”

An expansion G League franchise can take some time to establish. For instance, the Pelicans‘ new NBAGL team, announced in October 2018, won’t relocate to Birmingham, Alabama until 2022/23 and is playing in Erie in the interim. By bringing aboard a franchise like Capitanes that has an existing infrastructure – including a home arena and an ownership group – the NBA will be able to expedite the process, allowing the team to make the transition to the G League next fall.

Capitanes will continue to play its home games at Gimnasio Juan de la Barrera, an arena that holds about 5,000 fans, and will spend at least the next five years in the G League. Unlike the G League’s other 28 teams, Capitanes won’t be affiliated with a specific NBA franchise, per Eric Gomez of ESPN. It’s unclear if it will still be an option for players on assignment from the Trail Blazers or Nuggets, the two NBA teams without NBAGL affiliates.

“The assumption is Portland and Denver will be adding teams over time,” Silver said on Thursday.

The news of the G League expanding to Mexico City comes almost exactly a year after Silver indicated that he was optimistic about establishing an NBAGL team in Mexico. At the time, the NBA commissioner said he was confident that the league would be “planting its flag in Mexico” soon.