Dear Commissioner Silver,
With the recent success of the NBA, the Collective Bargaining Agreement complete, the new apparel deal with Nike, and the growing talent of the league, I have been hearing rumors and speculations of possible expansion. I would like to address these rumors and hopefully provide some insight to get the metaphorical ball rolling and hopefully see some potential changes. It has been 13 years since the last expansion team in 2004 with the Charlotte Bobcats (now the Charlotte Hornets). The expansion is closer than expected. I’m hearing that the earliest expansion could occur is the 2018-2019 season, but ideally it would occur in the 2019-2020 season. Below I would like to present you with some potential locations and then some pros and cons with the whole idea of expansion.
According to you, Mr. Silver, Seattle is the front-runner for a new team. Many people, like myself initially, were confused when you mentioned them, but it really seems to be a great possibility. When Kevin Durant and crew left in 2008 (surprise, surprise), the city was devastated, but the fan passion is still there. Basically, from what I’m hearing, the ball is in Seattle’s court and it’s merely up to them, following a few changes to KeyArena.
Another potential buyer will be Mexico City. On January 12 and January 14 of this year, the league hosted two regular season games in Mexico City. The first game was between the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks and then the Phoenix Suns versus the San Antonio Spurs. Both games sold out the 22,000-seat Mexico City Arena. The fan interest is there and the league has been doing events there for 25 years. They definitely should be considered #2 on the list.
A third city to consider is the city of Louisville, Kentucky. In an already thriving area of the country with Louisville and Kentucky college basketball, they are a pretty reasonable city to consider. The biggest thing they have going for them is potential facilities. Ideally, the new NBA team would play at the KFC Yum! Center and share occupancy with the Louisville Cardinals. They would also be centrally located and make travel and scheduling easy among the conference.
Some other cities to look at would be Vancouver, Kansas City, Las Vegas, and Pittsburgh.
Pro: Money, Money, Money
The main pro I can see from expansion is the revenue influx it will bring. In 2004, Charlotte paid a $300 million dollar expansion fee, but it is speculated that a new expansion team would be minimally $750 million dollars and all the teams will profit. The expansion fee would be divided equally among the other 30 NBA teams, each receiving roughly $50 million or even more for both expansions. Financially, that is almost too good to pass up. More teams are going to equal more revenue long-term, but short-term, I’m hearing some buzz that owners are not too thrilled. They already receive 1/30 of NBA revenue, but to add two more teams would decrease the revenue to 1/32 per team. I have been in contact with owners like Miami’s Pat Riley, Dallas’ Mark Cuban, and New York’s Phil Jackson. I am working hard at insuring that ultimately this expansion would favor them and their organizations, though I can see their initial fear. NBA Legend Shaquille O’Neal once said, “I’m tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money, money. I just to want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok.” Sorry Shaq, but for the NBA it’s all about money, money, money.
Cons: Landscape of the League & Talent Dilution
I have also been hearing some questioning, mainly from the media, about the future landscape of the league. With the potential of 32 teams, they want to know how this will affect the landscape of the NBA? Currently, the NBA is a body of 30 teams, in two 15-team conferences, with 6 five-team divisions. Ideally, the NBA should look to add two western teams, which would push the Memphis Grizzlies rightfully to the Eastern Conference. That would then have 16 teams in each conference and it is probable that the divisions would dissolve. Based on this alone, again, Seattle and Mexico City appear to be the front-runners.
I have to warn you, Mr. Silver, to be careful of the talent issues in expansion. With adding two new teams to the league, the league is susceptible to diluting the player talent. Teams like New York and Brooklyn are already struggling on the court. If two more teams were added, would players want to play in a new market or continue to go to the successful markets of Golden State or Cleveland?
If I remember, you did say the following in regards to expansion, “There are so many great players in the league and that’s one of the issues with expansion. Even putting aside the financial notion of selling equity and whether if it’s additive to the leagues as a whole to add more teams, the question becomes is it dilutive in terms of talent. And that’s something that I’m focused on as well.” Coaches and Players all around the league voiced their opinions via Twitter. I definitely agree with you but the problem will not merely be filling out rosters, rather being successful from Day 1 and having superstar talent. Let’s be honest, do we really think LeBron would take his “talentos” to Mexico City?
Pictures from Daily Express, VIP Net Worth, WPFL.org