While expansion isn’t the first thing on the mind of NBA executives, we’re going to see it sooner rather than later, with bringing teams to Seattle and later Louisville being on top of that specific agenda.
The NBA has bigger fish to fry at the moment: The Sterling ordeal and the saga of his ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, and the next TV contract the league negotiates with media outlets. There are some projections that say each NBA team will get close to $90 million from these deals, as the NBA is the only major league in North American sports to have its deal expire in the next few years, while the MLB and NFL are tied up until 2020 at the earliest. Right now each NBA team is making around $30 million from this new deal.
After all of this is over, there will be time to talk expansion. And to where? And how many?
Seattle is always on the books. It didn’t seem too far fetched to see the Sonics reborn in Seattle after seeing that team ripped away from them, relocated to Oklahoma City along with Kevin Durant and a lot of great memories from a franchise that has one NBA championship and reached the Finals two more times. And it will be once again, maybe as a first option, once Adam Silver, who recently said the NBA isn’t looking at expansion right now (wink, wink), has time to handle this issue.
But the NBA is thinking big. Not overseas. The time for an NBA franchise across the Atlantic still hasn’t come. Maybe it never will. There are teams and cities in the United States that want a chance. Canada, outside Toronto, probably can’t support an NBA franchise. But there are places crazy for basketball and an NBA team. Maybe a place like Louisville, who doesn’t have a pro team, but is a city with tons of sports culture and a thriving scene of college sports through the very successful Cardinals, who are in second in Men’s basketball when it comes to average attendance and lead Women’s basketball with their team, bringing in over 9000 fans each game.
The owners of the former ABA team the Kentucky Colonels, are waiting. If the next TV Deal is going to be as big as some banks and analysts project it to be, which is why Steve Ballmer was willing to pay so much money for the Clippers in a deal that still hasn’t been officially been completed.
Like every other major league – in College or Pro, expansion makes sense. More money from TV, more untapped markets, or at least an attempt to find out if there is such a thing. Seattle will feel like justice. Louisville will bring a sense of new and old. Some might say there isn’t enough talent to sustain an interesting league of 32 teams. Many think 30 is too much. But if there’s enough money to spread around, it’s going to happen.