Commissioner Adam Silver reveals the NBA is ready to review potential expansions

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Now that the NBA has successfully secured the newest collective bargaining agreement last summer, and are currently finalizing the media rights deals, it seems like it’s finally time to review a subject that has been pending for years now. We are talking about future NBA expansions, and not because we want, but because commissioner Adam Silver addressed it himself. 

During his annual NBA Finals news conference before the opening game between Dallas and Boston, he revealed that the league’s next order of business will be to explore expansions beyond 30 franchises. “It’s not preordained that we will expand this time, but I know there’s an enormous amount of interest out there,” he said.

“And to me, yes, there are wealthy individuals, institutions that would like to invest and buy NBA teams, but I think it’s on the league to look holistically because there is the dilution, of course,” shared Silver, referring to many basketball icons like LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal who’ve showed interest in owning new clubs. 

This subject has been long-time coming, as the league hasn’t expanded in two decades already. Back in 2004, the NBA added a team in Charlotte, after the Hornets had moved to New Orleans. The biggest difference nowadays, is how franchise valuations have skyrocketed from hundreds of millions to multibillions.

One of the commissioner’s greatest concerns is that adding more clubs to the league could eventually lead to a talent dip, meaning that approximately 35 athletes would be added to the player pool. “I feel great about where the talent is right now in the league, but those players have to come from somewhere,” he explained.

Even though Silver has referenced both Seattle and Las Vegas as potential new host cities in the past couple of years, he’s only mentioned their interest, but never said these destinations were a given. “At some point, we’d like to look outside the United States, in addition to Canada,” he said. “This may not be the right moment to do that, but I’m thinking long term, as well.”

Now, the most important things on the agenda are to have a successful NBA Finals and upcoming Draft, and finally put an end point to the new media rights agreements. According to Silver, the leagues hopes to reach a deal in the “relative near term.”

Silver also acknowledged how ‘complicated’ it has been to reach an agreement for the new media rights deals

According to sources like The Wall Street Journal, the NBA has been negotiating with ESPN, Amazon and NBC on deals that would total around $76 billion over an 11-year span. This is one of the main reasons why Silver has recognized that it has been difficult to reach an agreement. 

“It’s complicated with multiple partners all seeking similar assets. In many cases, just figuring out the right way to balance those games as they go to different partners,” the commissioner shared. “We tend to do long-term deals. We think that’s good for the stability of the league, but it means to a certain extent you’re trying to predict the future, which is, of course, impossible.”

The league executive also mentioned the possibility of potentially ending their partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery, and how that would affect TNT’s beloved Inside the NBA program. ”It has been difficult, that show in particular is special,” he expressed.

“On one hand from the league standpoint, it’s fantastic to be liked and to be wanted and to have multiple suitors,” Silver added. “At the same time, it makes me uncomfortable that it’s zero sum, that at the end of the day there’s only going to be so many television packages, there’s only so many Finals games and playoff games and regular-season games to distribute.”