The WNBA has been flirting with expansion for years, and it's reportedly nearing its first commitment.
The Golden State Warriors are close to bringing a WNBA franchise to the Bay Area, according to The Athletic's Marcus Thompson. The deal is reportedly not completed, with several details to be worked out, but an announcement could apparently come as soon as early October.
If the deal is finalized, the new team will reportedly play its games in the Warriors' Chase Center and be headquartered at their practice facility in Oakland.
With 12 teams on its current roster, the WNBA has been looking into expansion over the last couple years under commissioner Cathy Engelbert. Around this time last year, Engelbert was saying the league had narrowed its options to "about 10" cities with a goal of announcing at the end of 2022. That obviously didn't happen.
Engelbert acknowledged the Bay Area as "high on our list" of potential candidates, and the Warriors' backing, both financial and structurally, would only help there. The Athletic notes Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob has long been interested in adding a WNBA team to his portfolio and previously owned the San Jose Lasers in the now-defunct American Basketball League in the 1990s.
There were other parties interested in brining the WNBA to the Bay Area, Oakland in particular, but Lacob and the Warriors would be a natural and well-resourced fit. The most recent Forbes NBA team valuations had the Warriors as the most valuable franchise in the NBA at $7 billion, and its ownership of the Chase Center would help with scheduling for a sister WNBA team.