NBA Expansion Is Still Years Away

NBA beat reporters seem to think expansion is imminent.

So called “NBA Insiders”, the reporters who are spoon fed stories in more of a public relations way than a journalistic endeavor, have claimed that the National Basketball Association has decided to expand by two teams putting franchises in Las Vegas and Seattle. Additionally, LeBron James will own the Las Vegas franchise and that the announcement will be made once the NBA and the players have a new collective bargaining agreement in place and the NBA has a new television and streaming video deal completed. The present collective bargaining agreement ends at the conclusion of the 2023-24 season. The NBA’s deals with Disney’s ESPN and Warner Bros. Discovery Turner Sports, end after the 2024-25 season. Warner Bros. Discovery now owns Turner Sports, a totally different company from the one that negotiated the NBA-Turner Sports agreement in 2016.

Seattle makes sense. It is a mid-size market without an NBA team. It has an arena, a good TV market and lots of corporate money available. The NBA left Seattle in 2008 when Clayton Bennett moved his Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City because he and NBA Commissioner David Stern felt Seattle was not going to give the owner and league what they wanted. A state-of-the-art arena. Las Vegas is the glitzy, shiny vehicle that everyone wants. The National Hockey League and National Football League are in town, Formula One Racing will establish a stop in the city starting in 2023. But there are some serious questions that have to be pondered. It is a small market city with limited TV and corporate dollars and there are other entertainment forms available. When does Las Vegas become saturated with sports? Major League Soccer is almost ready to put a team in Las Vegas and Major League Baseball is very interested in operating there. NBA expansion is not a done deal yet.

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James prepares to shoot during a practice session for the NBA All-Star basketball game in Cleveland, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)