Sorry Seattle. Or Las Vegas. Or any other market dreaming of an NBA expansion team.
As seemingly has become an annual tradition, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was asked about the possibility of the NBA expanding to 32 teams at his pre-Finals press conference, this time with a Canadian city, such as Montreal as the focus. Once again, he threw cold water on the idea.
“My answer is, you know, and it’s the same as it’s been for other U.S. cities that have expressed interest, and that is that we are just not in expansion mode at the time,” Silver said. “I mean, we’re flattered that some other Canadian cities have expressed interest, as some other U.S. cities have, but again nothing new… I’m sure inevitably at some point we’ll turn back to expansion, but it’s not on the agenda at this time.”
This ultimately is not Silver’s call, it’s the 30 NBA owners. They remain uninterested in further slicing up the pie.
“At the end of the day from a league standpoint, you’re in essence selling equity in your overall league, and you’re selling a portion of the growth opportunity outside of that market,” Silver explained. “You’re selling the growth opportunity in Africa, and I think what we would be looking at is whether if we’re expanding, not necessarily the short-term benefit of an expansion fee, but is it additive over the long-term? Is that franchise adding something to the footprint of the league that the 30 current teams don’t?”
Plenty of cities would like to argue that they would add something different to the league’s footprint, but right now those arguments are falling on deaf ears. Silver has said it, and that has been the buzz from league sources for a long time now.
What will change that calculus for the owners? Shifts in revenue streams and other financial factors but nothing major is on the horizon.
If a city is going to land an NBA team in the next few years, it will be by poaching an existing one (something else not easy to do right now).