Expansion is a way of life for the big North American sports leagues, including the NBA. While it’s not going to happen right away, the feeling of change and expanding is in the air. Suggesting to shift the Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans and the Minnesota Timberwolves East, while teams in Vancouver, Seattle and Montreal might be a thing of the future.
The Montreal thing might be some local dreaming, but it’s certainly an option, although Toronto might not be a huge fan of it. There’s a very local-patriotic article about the matter (here in French, here in English) and it comes down to local pride and trying to compete with the big cash cow of Canadian sports, regardless of how successful it’s been.
Vancouver had its try at an NBA team. The Grizzlies didn’t do well financially or professionally on the Western coast of Canada and moved to Memphis. It took some time for the Grizzlies to become successful there, but they’re been more or less contending for the NBA title these last three or four years, and seem like a team that’s in a very healthy place.
Seattle? Everyone agrees that Seattle, home of the Supersonics from 1967 to 2008, NBA champions in 1979 and finalists in 1978 and 1996. A city that was pretty much robbed of its team by Clay Bennett and David Stern; a community that almost got the team back from Sacramento not too long ago. They’re hungry for a team, existing or a completely new one.
There’s also the matter of parity in the league, and making some shifts. It might come along with expansion. Some teams don’t make sense in the West. The Pelicans, Grizzlies and Timberwolves stand out. Most of the talk has been about Memphis and/or New Orleans, but the league won’t create and imbalance in numbers between East and West. Possibly, those changes will come with an expansion addition, and Seattle should be on top of that list, despite what you hear about the league wishing it had a franchise in Europe.
But the Timberwolves make more sense than anyone else. They play in the Northwestern division, with Portland (1729 miles), Oklahoma City (787 miles and another out of place team), Utah Jazz (1242 miles) and Denver (914 miles). There’s the Central division right around the bench, with Cleveland (757 miles), Chicago (408 miles), Milwaukee (336 miles), Indianapolis (591 miles) and Detroit (693 miles). There’s no great plains division. Minnesota make much more sense in a Midwest type of division.