This year has been tough on all of us, and the NBA was no exception. The coronavirus pandemic put a brief stop to last season. After pausing and regrouping, NBA restarted at a great financial expense. Such a situation made all companies consider new revenue streams that used to be off the table. Even the NBA could use some extra bucks in the long run, so Commissioner Adam Silver said league expansion could be possible. Any new NBA team owners would likely be charged at least $1 billion to enter the league.
“I think I’ve always said that it’s sort of the manifest destiny of the league that you expand at some point. 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.”Adam Silver, NBA
Silver pointed out expansion cannot be done at the expense of competitiveness. Adding a few more teams (most likely two) would create more roster spots, and the NBA wants to be confident those teams would be competitive before starting the expansion process.
If the NBA wants to become more prominent, firstly, the league has to even out the Eastern and Western Conferences based on the teams’ geographical position. The most elegant solution would be to add one team to both Conferences.
And no matter how you put it, Seattle is the frontrunner in that race. With its metro area, Seattle has a population of 3.98 million people, 15th-most in the US. It’s practically impossible to imagine any new times coming into the league before beloved SuperSonics. However, there are other intriguing options.
Las Vegas is one of the top picks too. US gambling mecca provides a home to the NBA Summer League, and the arena would probably be packed considering all the tourists pouring in across the whole year. There are also ideas about bringing back Vancouver on the basketball map. The former Grizzlies home is familiar with the league, but Vancouver would have to do better. The last time around, Grizzlies lasted only six years in Canada’s third-biggest city.
Honorable mentions go to San Diego, Louisville, and Nashville.
But for now, we’ll have to wait. The NBA isn’t accustomed to sudden changes; the league didn’t expand since adding Charlotte Bobcats in 2002. Nevertheless, if it gets the green light on expansion, Seattle is in the driver’s seat. The SuperSonics hype train is something we all need as soon as possible.