NBA Has Three Problems To Solve Before It Expands

The potential bankruptcy of regional sports networks, a new CBA and a new American national TV deal are on the table.

No matter how many times National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver says the NBA is not adding teams, it seems reporters keep asking him the same question. When are you expanding? The answer is pretty simple or complicated depending on your viewpoint. The pending bankruptcy of Sinclair’s regional sports networks could impact 16 franchises’ money flow. Then there is the collective bargaining agreement that needs to be negotiated and finally an American national TV deal has to be signed. Once that is all done, NBA owners can turn their collective attention to adding two teams. There is also the possibility of franchise owners in Memphis, Minneapolis and New Orleans could seek to transfer their teams to other markets if they cannot work out local arena deals.

The NBA could eventually expand and might want to set up shop in Las Vegas and Seattle. The NBA might also look at Mexico City. There are some people in Montréal and Louisville who in the past expressed interest in bringing the NBA to town. It is unlikely the NBA would consider a European expansion although the league will send teams around the globe in the pre-season to expand the NBA’s marketing reach. Seattle has the building and corporate market to be successful and a good size TV market. Leagues have fallen in love with Las Vegas although it is a small market with limited TV and corporate money and may be oversaturated with sports in the future.  The NFL, NHL, F1 and the WNBA have teams in town. Major League Baseball seems to view Las Vegas highly. Last fall, LeBron James directly addressed Silver about being a Las Vegas expansion team owner. “I would love to bring a team here at some point. That would be amazing. I want the team here, Adam. Thank you.”

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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James wants to own an NBA team in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)