NBA Rumor: NBA Expansion

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And Self also believes a successful run as a temporary home could put Kansas City on the shortlist to get an NBA team. “I saw firsthand, and we all did, what happened with the Hornets,” Self said. “When Katrina hit New Orleans and they relocated to Oklahoma City, you saw how that market rallied around that team to make them basically an automatic to get a franchise if anything else was going to transpire. And then of course the Sonics moved there. I can see [KC] doing the same thing. I think people would rally around it.”

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If Kansas City is able to showcase itself as a good spot for the NBA once again, that’s an added bonus for Lucas, too. “Of course, not unlike Oklahoma City some years ago, we want to have an opportunity to show a brand presence that (indicates) Kansas City is an impressive international city in its own right. And in the event that there’s ever talk about relocation, then we should be at the top of the list for any other teams. I don’t think that you’d ever see relocation for the Raptors, but, you know, maybe there’ll be others in the future.”

Before Milwaukee officials and the Bucks struck a funding agreement to build the arena, the NBA threatened to buy the franchise and sell it to one of two ownership groups, one in Las Vegas and the other Seattle, citing the aging BMO Harris Bradley Center where the Bucks played between 1988 and 2018. “I’m the co-owner of the Bucks and we love being in Milwaukee,” Wes Edens said. “If we had been forced to move the team, which we had not, Las Vegas was definitely one of the places that was on the list that we would have seriously considered.”

Former MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren has been teasing the idea of an NBA team in Las Vegas for years, and T-Mobile Arena was built with housing both an NHL team and an NBA team in mind. Indeed, the 20,000-seat arena was constructed with separate locker rooms for both sports. “To me it’s a question of when, not if, there will be an NBA team in that arena,” Edens said. “It’s just such a tremendous market. The success of the other teams really bodes well for what could be a potential success of an NBA team.”

Louisville is the NBA’s perpetual bridesmaid. The decades-long dance between the basketball-crazed city and the world’s preeminent basketball league began in the mid-1970s. The ABA’s Kentucky Colonels, one of the league’s most decorated and financially successful franchises, were poised to make the jump into the NBA when the two leagues merged, but owner John Y. Brown decided to cash out by selling star players to other franchises and accepting a $3 million buyout to fold his team. Decades later, Louisville had the then-Vancouver Grizzlies in hand in 2001. “We fumbled on the one-yard line,” Steve Higdon, chairman of NBA2LOU, tells CBS Sports. A combination of local politics and the inability to raise funds for a new arena killed the deal, and the Grizzlies landed in Memphis. A year later, Rick Pitino and the University of Louisville exerted their own influence to keep the then-Charlotte Hornets out of Kentucky. Toss in a failed bid at the Houston Rockets, and the home of the 1975 ABA champions had grown sick of losing out on professional basketball.

Whether Kentuckians would throw their dollars behind a professional basketball team remains to be seen, but they already devote a fair bit of time to the NBA. Louisville routinely draws strong television ratings, particularly when it comes to the NBA Draft. It led all cities with a 5.3 rating on the 2017 NBA Draft, per Sports Media Watch, and that devotion to the game is something Issel still sees regularly. “To this day, I have people in their 50s and 60s that come up to me and say ‘We really loved the Colonels. My dad used to take me to all of the games,'” he recalls. Nostalgia, in itself, does not support a billion-dollar enterprise, but it doesn’t hurt in a region with a fairly low population. Only New Orleans and Memphis are smaller among NBA markets, but neither came with the sort of built-in market share that a Kentucky basketball team would have based purely on history.

Louisville had the then-Vancouver Grizzlies in hand in 2001. “We fumbled on the one-yard line,” Steve Higdon, chairman of NBA2LOU, tells CBS Sports. A combination of local politics and the inability to raise funds for a new arena killed the deal, and the Grizzlies landed in Memphis. A year later, Rick Pitino and the University of Louisville exerted their own influence to keep the then-Charlotte Hornets out of Kentucky. Toss in a failed bid at the Houston Rockets, and the home of the 1975 ABA champions had grown sick of losing out on professional basketball.

The KFC Yum! Center now sits on the Louisville waterfront with all of the bells and whistles of a typical NBA arena, but no professional tenant. The trouble, as former Colonels legend and current NBA2LOU president Dan Issel explains, was a lack of interest on the NBA’s part. “As we got into it, we found out that expansion really wasn’t anything, it wasn’t as inevitable as everybody felt,” Issel said. “In fact, I called the commissioner and he said ‘Dan I really appreciate it, but I’m not even taking any meetings on expansion.'” This has been the NBA’s official stance for over a decade. The league has not expanded since welcoming the Charlotte Bobcats in 2004, giving it an even 30 teams.

That the situation is fluid “is more true now than it’s been in decades,” says J. Bruce Miller, Louisville’s long-time NBA point man. Granted, Louisville still looks like a long shot. The University of Louisville continues to control the most significant revenue streams at the KFC Yum Center and is poorly positioned to start making concessions to an NBA owner amid layoffs and budget cuts. Meanwhile, modern arenas in Vegas and Kansas City are unencumbered by leases that could cause conflict with an NBA tenant.

So long as there is more money to be made in another market, though, rumors will persist. In addition to the Grizzlies, the Charlotte Hornets, Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs have all been subject to recent relocation speculation. “There might be some teams looking at moving,” Dan Issel said. “All I know is that the people that I’ve talked to who have had knowledge of those situations have promised me that I’ll get a call when it’s appropriate.”

Will an NBA team call Seattle home within the next five years? “I sure hope so. If there’s one thing that I could wish for our league structurally, I think it would be to get a team back to Seattle,” Warriors president Rick Welts told NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh on the “Habershow” podcast. “It’s obviously a really personal issue for me. I know what that team meant to that city — bringing the first professional championship to Seattle. It’s an amazing market. A lot of the future of the world is being envisioned there. It’s got a vibrant community that would really support an NBA team coming back.”

He, more than anybody, knows the NBA belongs in Seattle. “But the path is problematic,” he said. “The good news is the NBA’s business is really successful right now, and that means we have 30 teams operating without anyone feeling like they’re in a market where they can’t support NBA basketball. And the owners — I would say probably to their credit — have shown no interest. And the league hasn’t really promoted any expansion agenda. So how do you get a team there?”

Dan Issel spent the end of this past week in Springfield, Mass. The Kentucky Wildcats basketball icon traveled north to see his former Denver Nuggets teammate, Bobby Jones, inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. While hobnobbing with fellow hoops Hall of Famers, Issel planned to do some lobbying designed to bring attention to the effort he heads to bring an NBA expansion franchise to the city of Louisville. “I plan to talk to everybody I can about NBA to Lou,” Issel said Friday. “I’ve really been encouraged in my two days in Springfield (by) how many people around professional basketball know about our efforts to bring a team (to Louisville).”

Issel, 70, said the uncertainty over when/if the NBA will add teams is “a little frustrating in the fact we don’t have a timetable. We think the NBA is going to expand. We think there are a couple of reasons why they will. But we don’t have a timetable to work with.” Exclusive access for NBA owners to a large pool of money is the primary factor that will eventually compel the league to add teams, Issel said. “The owners have to split all of the Basketball Related Income, the BRI, which is ticket sales, television (rights fees), all of that stuff, 50-50 with the players,” Issel said, referencing the league’s collective-bargaining agreement. “Expansion fees are not BRI, so the expansion fees the owners would collect would go directly to the owners’ pocketbooks.”

Chris Hansen’s bid for a new NBA arena in Seattle continued recently, after he bought up a pair of properties in the city’s SoDo neighborhood. His real estate adviser told the Puget Sound Business Journal that the entrepreneur has not given up on hopes of building an arena for a men’s pro basketball team. According to property records, Hansen bought two parcels of land in SoDo for almost $5 million. Any potential arena would still require Seattle’s City Council to sell him part of Occidental Avenue.

Las Vegas might eventually land an NBA team, but expansion or relocation aren’t in the current plans, commissioner Adam Silver said. He will be in Las Vegas for the NBA Summer League, which begins Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion. Various league meetings also will take place, including one involving the Board of Governors in which significant decisions are made. The first two days of the Summer League are sold out. “While we, of course, don’t have an NBA team in Las Vegas, this seems like the next best thing,” Silver said Thursday. “For roughly two weeks of the calendar in July, enormous attention is on the NBA. I believe we account for roughly 30,000 room nights during that two-week period that we’re there.

Mason Plumlee: I realize Canada has different economic conditions than Mexico, but the Raptors have proven that an NBA franchise is a solid investment. The Raptors are the most valuable pro sports team in Canada (worth around $2B), more than the Maple Leafs and Blue Jays. My guess is that with the right partner, solid infrastructure and a long-term commitment, a Mexico City franchise could be a giant. Some logistics related to taxes, customs and immigration would need to be sorted out with the government, but maybe that could be part of Trump’s secret tariff deal.

Unlike David Stern, who said “I don’t think we can go back” to Vancouver 10 years ago, Silver provided hope for local hoops fans. “In retrospect, I wish we had a team in Vancouver right now. I think Canada could handle two NBA teams,” said Silver. “I share David’s sentiment that we do have regret. I think we were a bit ahead of our time. There was a moment in the league where prospects seemed down in terms of the team. Attendance was down, ratings were down. I understood from an economic standpoint why the then-team owner (Michael Heisley) wanted to move the team.”

As the league continues to extend its reach across the world going forward, Charlotte Hornets guard Tony Parker envisions a future in which the NBA has teams playing in Europe, whether as part of the current league structure or in a system that would allow successful overseas clubs to qualify for competition against their American counterparts. “Hopefully the discussion will go forward with the NBA. Maybe one day we will have an NBA Europe. Or something like that,” he said in a recent interview with Forbes. “Maybe not a European team playing in the NBA but maybe an NBA Europe where you’ll have an own division and then the winners can play in the U.S. I think that in the NBA they are very interested in the prospect of doing something in Europe. Basketball in Europe is growing every year and is getting better and better.”

In an interview with the St. Louis Business Journal last week, Chaifetz doubled down on a statement he made in September and a recent Twitter post regarding a possible NBA franchise in St. Louis. “I’d love to be involved with a team in St. Louis in the NBA. It’d be great for the city,” Chaifetz said. Ten years ago, Chaifetz’ dream of an NBA franchise in St. Louis would have brought forth laughter. But the Rams relocated to Los Angeles and the NBA is now being touted as the American sports league most in touch with younger fans, social media and minority television audiences.

Six months since his acrimonious exit from the NBA2LOU organization, Miller has not stopped working the phones or cultivating potential owners. Previously on record that the NBA2LOU effort cannot survive league scrutiny because of financial issues associated with Signature CEO Joe Steier, Miller is now operating independently and, again, optimistically. “It hasn’t been a lost cause in the sense that it was hopeless,” he said. “We darn near had it two or three times.”

“What I’m looking for is somebody who would do something for Louisville what Danny Thomas did for Memphis,” Miller said. “And I’m not talking, necessarily, about a movie star. What he did with (St. Jude Children’s) hospital changed Memphis, Tennessee. That place is just breathtaking. That’s exactly what I’m looking for: somebody coming in and doing something like what Danny Thomas did for Memphis’ reputation. I think that person is out there.”
2 years ago via WDRB

If you’ve lived in Louisville for any amount of time, you know this city goes wild for its basketball: high school and, of course, college. “It’s just time for that next step,” NBA Hall of Famer Dan Issel said. He’s leading the charge to bring an NBA team to town. The former UK Wildcat, Denver Nugget and executive updated the public on his dream at a lunch for entrepreneurs Wednesday afternoon. “There have been discussions for years about bringing the NBA to Louisville, but we think the timing is right now,” Issel said.
2 years ago via WDRB

He knows his plan isn’t a slam dunk. The price tag is hefty. It would take more than $1 billion to bring a team here and another $400 million to get the franchise up and running. “You’d be surprised by how many people, how many groups can write that kind of check,” he told the crowd. He knows his plan isn’t a slam dunk. The price tag is hefty. It would take more than $1 billion to bring a team here and another $400 million to get the franchise up and running. “You’d be surprised by how many people, how many groups can write that kind of check,” he told the crowd.

“It was just awful to me,” he continued. “I still remember granting the expansion franchise (and) I was so thrilled that we had a franchise in Vancouver. “It was never managed to great success.” Stern also believes there’s a chance the NBA might one day return to Canada’s west coast. “I would never say never about anything,” he said. “I’m an observer, so I’m watching from afar as they build a (US)$700-million building in Seattle. Vancouver still has a great building that it had when we were there.”

Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini is a rich man, but an NBA franchise looks like it might be out of his price range. At least for now. The billionaire, who grew up in East Vancouver and owns both the Canucks and Rogers Arena, spoke about the possibility of bringing an NBA team to Vancouver in an interview with Sportsnet 650 on Thursday. “There’s been some discussions on [bringing an NBA franchise to Vancouver],” Aquilini said. “It’s obvious because we’ve got a building, it’s plug and play. We still have the hoops. We still have the floor. Everything’s there. The locker room and everything is there. We’ve discussed it.”

The words unsurprisingly drew applause from the partisan crowd. At halftime, Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman presented Lakers president of basketball operations and luminary Magic Johnson with the keys to the city on “Magic Johnson Day.” When Johnson spoke on the microphone, he shared a dream. “I hope one day Las Vegas gets an NBA team,” Johnson said to roaring applause. Will that happen? “They’re building the stadiums to get ready for it. With the hockey team and WNBA team that is here and Raiders coming in soon, they’re setting themselves up to have an NBA team,” James said. “But I don’t know if it’s now or 10 years from now.”
2 years ago via ESPN

However, Grizzlies owner Robert Pera would have to sell the team in order to move it under the terms of the lease, and Pera has given no indication he plans to do so. Quite the opposite, actually. Earlier this year, Pera agreed to buy out some of his minority owners at a price that valued the team at nearly $1.3 billion, league sources said. At the time, Pera told season-ticket holders in a statement that “I am committed to Memphis as an NBA market and as the home of the Grizzlies.”
2 years ago via ESPN

Oak View is planning an ambitious engineering feat, which Leiweke is quick to point out is not a renovation but a new structure. The issue is that the arena’s iconic roof has been designated a national historic landmark and can’t be altered. The arena is also built into the side of a hill in a neighborhood that has turned more residential in the past decade with more than 40 former parking and vacant lots turned into housing as it sits near Amazon’s world headquarters. So to expand the outdated arena, Oak View is planning to dig down and around the roof and several exterior glass walls to gut and expand the building’s footprint. First pegged as a $600 million project, Leiweke told ESPN the price tag is now projected at $750 million.

Dan Issel has followed the money far enough to believe there are buyers. What he doesn’t know, and won’t predict, is when there might be a pro basketball team to buy. The president of NBA2LOU expressed confidence Wednesday night in Louisville’s ability to fund an expansion team, but he conceded that his timetable has grown longer. “Not the least of my worries, but one of my lesser concerns is that when the time comes we’ll find somebody to write the check,” Issel said. “That person is out there. … The challenge we’re going to have is the NBA being ready for us.”

The Louisville Basketball Investment & Support Group is a collective of Louisville investors who are working to attract a majority investor and owner who could help generate at least $1.4 billion to start an NBA franchise in Louisville. The organization has pledges of at least $3 million for startup costs. This was the first official rally for the grassroots movement, but the group plans to host similar events in Lexington and other parts of the state in an effort to build a groundswell of fan support ahead of a possible NBA expansion.

Some around the league see expansion as inevitable, no matter how many times Silver says there are no looming plans for adding teams, since the expansion fee involved would almost certainly cross the $1 billion threshold given current franchise values and the way league revenue, TV ratings and various other metrics tied to general interest in the N.B.A. all continue to trend upward. But maintaining a 30-team league and moving a struggling franchise to Seattle within the next decade might prove to be the easier course.

The National Basketball Association may be returning to the state of Missouri for the first time in over three decades. An anonymous league executive spoke with Jarrett Sutton of SEC Network on Friday and discussed the possibility of the NBA expanding to Kansas City. “Going to be real honest with you, Kansas City will get an NBA team at some point,” he was quoted as saying. “It’s a real thing I’ve heard from multiple sources. Just a matter of time. Seattle and KC to me are [the] most valuable markets for league expansion when it makes sense.”

Speaking at a company analyst and investor day event Thursday, MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren said he expects the NBA to come to Las Vegas in a few years. Murren sees an NBA team relocating like the NFL’s Oakland Raiders’ pending 2020 move to Las Vegas, and not an expansion team being added, like in the case of the NHL’s Golden Knights. “I think it’s highly likely that a team, or multiple teams, will be looking to move over the next three years,” Murren said. “We know who they are, that’s why I think it’s highly likely. I would expect that Las Vegas will have an NBA team within the next five years, if not sooner. That team would likely play at T-Mobile (Arena).”
3 years ago via ESPN

Once upon a time, David Stern’s vision was to expand into Europe, Asia and Africa and make the game global. Now, the next horizon looks as clear and vibrant as a 4K screen: one of Silver’s missions is to bring the game to every fan’s fingertips via smartphones, consoles and computers and reach every corner of the planet as easily as Giannis Antetokounmpo reaches the rim in one stride from the free throw line. The NBA isn’t ready to start a franchise in Europe knowing how international travel would negatively impact players’ rest and health.

David Locke: Is Mexico City a viable NBA city? Adam Silver: Mexico City, I believe, can be a viable NBA city. We’ve played several regular-season games there mid-season. They have a beautiful arena there in Mexico City, obviously a huge, growing fan base—a city of 22 million. It would open up, arguably, a whole country to us in the way Toronto has done for Canada. So it’s something we continue to look at. It would need to be bargained with the players. It’s not about to happen in the next two to three years, but over time, I could see it as a great market to potentially expand to.


The NHL confirmed what had been rumored for months at its Board of Governors meeting — Seattle is a definite target for hockey, which has 31 teams and needs a 32nd to balance out both its conferences and its schedules. The NHL will allow members of the Oak View Group, which successfully lobbied the Seattle City Council to approve its plan to spend $660 million to renovate both the Arena and the nearby Seattle Center, to begin a season ticket drive for the potential expansion team. Hockey’s timetable for expansion is thus clearly and substantially ahead of the NBA’s.

Though NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this year that he believes expansion is “inevitable,” there is no indication among league owners and other sources that there’s any current appetite among NBA owners to add one or two new teams. The obvious reason why is there is no appetite among them to further split the $24 billion from the new national TV deal, which runs through 2024. (As ever, in the interests of full disclosure: Turner Sports, one of the NBA’s national television partners along with ESPN/ABC, runs NBA.com.) “I don’t see expansion,” one owner said this weekend. “A move is the only way.”
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November 27, 2020 | 1:58 am EST Update
And as is usually the case when the Celtics don’t turn a highly publicized rumor into a reality, we’re getting a reason why that deal never went through. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the Celtics were never really that high on Turner. Boston apparently didn’t see him as a very big upgrade to their frontcourt, and was even exploring other deals to trade Turner had the deal with Indiana come to fruition. “Talking to people and reading the tea leaves as best I could, it really comes down to the Celtics didn’t want Myles Turner,” Lowe said on The Lowe Post Podcast. “I did hear from some teams around the league that the Celtics have done some preliminary research on what Myles Turner’s trade value would have been to them had they acquired him either in this deal or in a separate deal, and obviously didn’t like what they saw.”
Storyline: Myles Turner Trade?
For quite some time during his 2020 offseason, Marc Gasol was rumored to be considering a return to Europe and his native Spain by joining Barcelona. Now a player of the Los Angeles Lakers, Gasol shut down those rumors as pure speculation, saying that there wasn’t even a talk with Barcelona. “That was not accurate at all,” Gasol said when asked how close he was to going back to Spain during first official presser by the Los Angeles Lakers. “I think someone made that assumption just because I’m not very ‘out there’ and communicate on things. I think people just try to make that decision for me and thought that was a very good time to try it. I never stated that. I was never close to that. I never even spoke to Barcelona about it.” “That came as surprise to me but that’s the world we’re living now. You’re hearing something and everybody runs with it,” Gasol added.
Have you gotten a chance to speak to those guys – Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum? How are they feeling about you returning to the team? Enes Kanter: The day I got traded to Portland, Dame texted me, and he said, ‘Let’s go out there and win a championship.’ I was just super excited. I also saw CJ yesterday, and he was just very happy for me being here. But not only them, all the other guys as well. They were my ex-teammates, and they were so happy to see me come back. It was reported that Boston gave you two choices. Either the Blazers or the Grizzlies. Was this report accurate? Enes Kanter: Most of the time, they were talking to my agent. When my agent called me and said that you’re getting traded to Portland, I was like, ‘I was here two years ago, and I had an amazing time, so let’s do it again.’
Wanamaker racked up titles and All-Star appearances during his overseas career, but he didn’t make his NBA debut until Oct. 16, 2018. He was 28 at the time, just over three months removed from signing a one-year contract with the Boston Celtics and still trying to prove that he belonged. “The NBA was always my dream, and I always wanted to play in the NBA,” Wanamaker told reporters on a video conference call Wednesday. “As I got older, I kind of doubted myself that maybe I wasn’t good enough to play in the NBA. And then when the Boston situation came, it was a thing where I wanted to prove to myself if I was able to play. … I wanted to take the chance and see, ‘Am I really made for the NBA, or am I just a guy that’s going to play high-level basketball overseas?’ “
Who’s to say what Silas knew about the discord inside the organization he was about to join? Mike D’Antoni chose to leave, and Morey was out too — that much was obvious. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta preferred Jeff Van Gundy for coach, sources say, while Harden and Westbrook wanted Tyronn Lue. Silas was to be the brokered compromise, but both star players chose to try to push their way out after he was hired anyway.
The world has changed drastically in the two years since D1 Capital launched. And Dan Sundheim has made money through it all, thanks to a string of bets that have emerged as winners in the new normal. The Wharton grad now has at least $1 billion in personal wealth between his assets in his firm, stake in the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, real-estate portfolio, and art collection. The former Viking Global Investors chief investment officer started trading at D1 in July 2018 with more than $5 billion – including more than $500 million of his own money – and hasn’t looked back.