NBA Expansion Will Eventually Come After Business Matters Are Done

There are some business roadblocks to adding teams.

At some point, in the post COVID-19 pandemic world, the National Basketball Association is going to add new markets to its present mix. The Commissioner Adam Silver has been very coy about the possibility that his business will have 32 franchises at some point saying on one hand nothing is imminent but on the other hand, those who are speculating that buying an expansion team would cost want-to-be owner $2.5 billion are probably not right throwing out that figure. There are three reasons the NBA is not increasing its size right now. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from ending. That is an enormous roadblock. The other two are basic business. The NBA needs to renegotiate TV deals in North America and then negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with its players. Generally, leagues don’t add teams before those two pieces of business are complete. The NBA is getting billions of dollars from its national cable TV deals but there are some clouds on the horizon. Comcast is folding NBC Sports Net at the end of the year and Sinclair’s purchase of a number of regional cable sports networks has been a financial disaster. The television money probably is still available but cord cutters have caused an erosion in the numbers of ESPN’s subscribers.

The collective bargaining agreement is basic negotiations but there needs to be a section agreed upon by the owners and players as to how an expansion would proceed. The players would not share in expansion money headed to the owners but there is a promise of probably 30 new jobs. It appears Seattle would be the best choice for the league as the market has local government support, a good cable TV area and there is corporate support available. Finding a quality second city could be a problem for the NBA.

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FILE – In this Aug. 26, 2019, file photo, the Golden State Warriors championship banners hang above the seating and basketball court at the Chase Center in San Francisco. The Warriors will play the Brooklyn Nets at home Thursday night, March 12, 2020, in the first NBA game without fans since the outbreak of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)