Is the NBA planning an expansion? What cities would the NBA expand to?
There are currently 30 teams comprising the National Basketball Association, and there are persistent rumors that this number will go up in the near future.
The NBA is one of the most popular professional sports leagues in the U.S., and it has been expanding since it was founded in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America with the participation of 11 teams. The league changed its name to the National Basketball Association three years later, and it has blossomed into 30 teams, with the Charlotte Bobcats being the latest to become a franchise in 2004.
18 years have passed since then, and there have been persistent rumors that the league will expand to 32 teams in the near future. NBA commissioner Adam Silver had denied that there were immediate plans of adding more teams to the league. He however did not totally discount the possibility of having more franchises in the future.
“We are not discussing that at this time,” Silver had said. “As I’ve said before, at some point, this league will invariably expand, just not at this moment.”
Possible cities for NBA expansion
Two cities that had come up as possible sites of expansion were Seattle and Las Vegas. Sports analyst Bill Simmons had brought this up in the sports website The Ringer, saying that he had information that the league would expand to these areas. He even mentioned the possible involvement of Los Angeles Lakers icon LeBron James in the team’s ownership. James himself had said on his show The Shop: Uninterrupted that he wanted to own a team in Vegas.
Joining the fray are boxers Oscar de la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, who have also expressed an interest in owning an NBA team in Sin City.
Las Vegas set to be’NBA-ready’
Silver may have flatly denied these expansion rumors, but Las Vegas looks like it could be getting ready to host an NBA team. The Oak View Group, known for building and managing sports and entertainment facilities, have bought a 66-acre tract of land in Las Vegas and are reportedly constructing an NBA-ready arena on the property.
The company says they are not being presumptive about hosting a team, adding that the decision is up to the league and franchise owners. Las Vegas has never been home to an NBA team.
Team-less in Seattle
It’s a different case for Seattle, who may have their heart set on getting back the franchise that slipped through their fingers. They lost the Sonics in 2008 when team owners voted to move the team to Oklahoma City.
Seattle already has an operational venue- the Climate Pledge Arena which just opened in October of last year. It currently hosts the NHL team the Kraken and the WNBA’s Seattle Storm.
The NBA is scheduled to negotiate a new broadcasting contract after the existing one expires in 2025, and this could be the perfect time for the league to seriously consider expansion. The latest collective bargaining agreement of the league expires at the end of the 2023-24 season, another opportune moment to make some major changes. If the NBA does decide to seize either of these two occasions to welcome new teams into the fold, Las Vegas and Seattle will in all likelihood be waiting in the wings.