Larry Coon: I think it’s pretty inevitable that there’s going to be expansion at some point, and we could see a 32-team league. There are certainly cities like Seattle ready to host an NBA franchise again. I was thinking expansion might’ve even been on the table this past year because of Covid. If you collected a couple of expansion fees, you put a lot of money into the league in a year when revenues were so far down… Eventually, you’re increasing the revenue that comes in with ticket sales, local cable revenue, everything around the game… The flipside of that coin is that you’re now splitting the profits more ways and your revenue sharing differently.
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First, Resorts World. Now, what’s next for the north end of the Las Vegas Strip? For years, the “All Net” project has promised a new hotel and arena development, only to fall short. After several false starts, developers now say they are ready to get to work on a $3 billion resort. 8 News Now spoke with the man behind the project — former UNLV basketball star Jackie Robinson.
Former UNLV and NBA basketball player Jackie Robinson has led All Net from day one. He wants to build a hotel, arena and retail complex where Wet-n-Wild used to sit. Over the years, plans have changed. Investors have come and gone. Promises to county commissioners were made and made again. “You want to win,” said Robinson. “It’s not just about playing the game. I want to win.” Today, Robinson says he is not playing anymore. Ground will break again at the All Net site in October, and he says nothing will stop it.
And yes, an arena — with or without the NBA. “Would we like to have an NBA team? Absolutely,” Robinson said. “But, would we be deterred if we don’t? No.”
Sikma still laments the Sonics’ move as a franchise to Oklahoma City, and he credited Milwaukee for not suffering a similar fate when the Bucks were at risk of relocating. Sikma remains hopeful Seattle can attract another NBA franchise. “I’m waiting for the day when (NBA commissioner Adam Silver) brings it up and says something internally in the league is being considered,” he said.
Gary Washburn: Adam Silver said the NBA will ‘continue to consider” expansion. Not exactly encouraging words for a return to Seattle soon
Kurt Helin: Interesting. Adam Silver is asked about expansion and said it’s “not at the top of the agenda right now.”
Based on what we’ve already proven, we can field a team of talent on par with the pros of today, and we want the chance to do that. As a world renowned and legendary professional basketball team, we petition Commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA governors and the powers that be to grant The Original Harlem Globetrotters an NBA franchise. Not now, but right now!
When the NBA struggled to draw more than a few thousand fans, we agreed to schedule doubleheaders featuring the Globetrotters. As the NBA grew, you were able to attract the best Black players, but we remember who helped the NBA get it all started. Don’t get us wrong, we love what y’all have done recently and we are proud of how your players are standing up to make a difference in their communities. But don’t get it twisted; basketball would not be what it is today without us.
Congratulations on growing into a multi-billion-dollar industry with international endeavors and huge media deals. We’ve kept our heads down and focused on what means the most to us – world class basketball showmanship, uniting families and spreading joy of the game. So, if you really believe what you’ve been saying about social justice, going back to “normal” needs to look different. You can’t just act like we don’t exist anymore. It’s time to right the wrongs and rewrite history. It’s time for the NBA to honor what the Globetrotters have done for OUR sport, both here in the U.S. and around the globe.
Las Vegas’s Jay Bloom is leading an ownership group that is now reported to have completed circling the funds to purchase the NBA’s Las Vegas expansion franchise under consideration, putting his group as the favorite to come up with the new NBA team in Las Vegas.
When reached for comment, Jay Bloom said, “While it is most certainly too preliminary to comment on our group’s efforts, Bill Foley’s extraordinary success with the Vegas Golden Knights, together with Mark Davis’s Las Vegas Raiders’ incredibly warm reception by the community and his exceptional world class facilities, and further, the addition of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, clearly demonstrate that Las Vegas is already a major player in the world of professional sports.” Jay continued, “Be it ultimately our group or someone else, Las Vegas is clearly the most deserving city in the nation for an NBA expansion franchise team.”
Bloom’s partners include such big names as famed motivational speaker Tony Robbins and former NBA 14-year veteran, and Las Vegas local Marcus Banks III, among other major powerhouse individuals and notable persons.
It’s widely believed the NBA will expand for the first time since rounding out to 30 teams in 2004 partly to recoup losses from the pandemic. Returning to Seattle as part of the process is almost a given (with Las Vegas as the other likely city) now that the arena issues that led to the Supersonics leaving for Oklahoma City in 2008 have been resolved. “If there is expansion, he’s definitely going to get his opportunities,” said one league insider.
When it came to the topic of Seattle, Mr. Ballmer seemed to have some knowledge but played it coy. “I gotta sleep on that,” Ballmer said. “I know nothing, I see nothing. The commissioner talked about the fact that it’s an open consideration at some point to do expansion. If an expansion were to happen Seattle would be up at the top of the list. I certainly haven’t participated in any in-depth discussions at this point. I can’t tell you the timing, but I read the commissioner’s remarks at the same time the rest of you did.”
“I’d love for Seattle to have a basketball team again,” Ballmer said. “It isn’t going to be the Clippers. Clippers are the LA Clippers, they will stay the LA clippers. I love having the LA Clippers. We’re building a new arena, you can call it a new $2 billion home for the Clippers in Los Angeles. I gotta say owning a team or having a team in LA is a competitive advantage. All things being equal, guys love being in LA. It’s a great place to be.”
When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver began discussing the possibility of expansion relatively recently, it made sense for the San Diego dot-connecting to start. The city is wading into the fledgling stage of a new arena to anchor an entertainment, housing and retail space in the Midway District. The planned seating capacity, something approaching 17,000, slots in the lower range of current NBA and NHL buildings.
Is something happening soon? No. An NBA spokesperson recently relayed to the Union-Tribune that expansion, though being discussed, “is not on the front burner.” Newly seated Mayor Todd Gloria, pressed for an arena timeline, told the U-T that if he’s satisfied with answers from developers about wants and needs, the soonest it’s likely to reach the City Council for approval would be the fall.
“We haven’t had conversations with the NBA or NHL,” Gloria said. “Obviously, I’m aware of the commissioner’s statement, too. Anyone would make that same connection, right? Is there potential that’s here? We would welcome the NBA’s interest. But I want to be really clear: We need to make sure that anything in this space is a good deal for the city and the taxpayers.”
For most of a year, Taylor has explored a sale of the Wolves and Lynx. How’s that coming? “Well, it’s not coming is the best way to say it,” Taylor said. “I haven’t found anything that for sure says I should move ahead.” Taylor’s price tag for the Wolves and Lynx is estimated to be in the $1.5 billion range. With NBA expansion — Las Vegas and Seattle have been mentioned — current team owners could each be in for a reported $160 million expansion fee windfall. “Obviously I’m aware of that — you’ve got to pick your time,” Taylor said, adding that no definite decision for expansion has been made. “The other question: Is now a good time to sell when you don’t have fans? And it’s not a good time.”
It has since been reported the NBA discussed adding two teams—both of which would come with a $2.5 billion expansion fee that would be distributed among the league’s current group of governors. Silver participated in Sportico’s NBA valuations event on Tuesday. The commissioner was “not ready” to confirm the number of teams or the price point the league would seek if it were to add clubs. He said it “doesn’t feel like the right time” to focus resources or attention on future growth with the league still trying to navigate the pandemic. But Silver did say that “clearly [the] valuations [show] some of the reported numbers [for expansion fees] are very low in terms of the value at which we would expand.”
It was surprising to hear Silver suggest $2.5 billion would not be enough to bring a team to Seattle, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Mexico City or any other rumored expansion market. $2.5 billion sounds like an astronomically high price—particularly when one considers no North American pro sports team has ever sold for more than $2.35 billion (see: Joe Tsai, Brooklyn Nets). Sportico valuations authority Peter Schwartz agreed noting that $2.5 billion is greater than the average NBA team valuation. “That’s not in accordance with pricing on past expansion fees paid in sports—with the slight exception of Seattle in the NHL.”
Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis told Sportico’s Eben Novy-Williams and Peter Schwartz during Tuesday’s event that down the line, NBA teams should be worth significantly more money than they are today. “When you look at how big the [potential] marketplace is, [the NBA is] still a small business,” Leonsis said. “When you think about [there being] 8 billion people around the world, 6 billion now connected with high-speed connections [there are many potential fans out there]. Our cable ratings—even though we’re pretty much the top rated show up and down the line nightly—are still small” from a penetration standpoint. The league, he said, still has “a lot of upside.”
Silver participated in Sportico’s NBA valuations event on Tuesday. The commissioner was “not ready” to confirm the number of teams or the price point the league would seek if it were to add clubs. He said it “doesn’t feel like the right time” to focus resources or attention on future growth with the league still trying to navigate the pandemic. But Silver did say that “clearly [the] valuations [show] some of the reported numbers [for expansion fees] are very low in terms of the value at which we would expand.”
Schwartz isn’t the only one we spoke to who doubted the league could command $5 billion in expansion fees for a pair of new teams. A sports banker, who asked to remain anonymous to speak openly, said, “If no one is pitching Glen Taylor within a billion dollars of $2.5 billion for Minnesota, why would you think someone would spend $2.5 billion to go to Las Vegas? It’s not a better market.” Remember, in Las Vegas the owner would either have to share stadium revenues with the Golden Knights or build his/her own venue. The banker also noted it is not as if there are “a lot of people who can write a $2.5 billion check”—a problem the NFL has come to realize.
Another high-ranking team executive said it was unlikely any serious consideration of expansion would happen at least before the end of the 2021-22 season. At any rate, expansion remains the much more likely route for cities currently without NBA teams in the next few years than relocation. And Seattle is at the top of the list.
Seattle stands ready, the obvious top candidate for expansion, with Las Vegas and Vancouver leading the list of cities that could be a second site if the NBA opted to expand by two. (That’s not necessarily a given, I’m told; the league could potentially go with 31 teams for a while, anyway, if it wanted.) And various governors and EVPs over the years have repeatedly said the Emerald City should be first in line among non-NBA cities for the next team, whether through expansion or relocation. That doesn’t mean potential Vegas groups don’t have very deep pockets (they do) or other cities won’t be able to make compelling presentations.
Brian Windhorst, who covers the NBA for ESPN, said that for the last five years or so, he and his ESPN colleagues have asked NBA commissioner Adam Silver about the potential for NBA expansion, and during that time, Silver has always said it wasn’t on the horizon. “And he changed his answer, as you are well aware, last month,” Windhorst told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy Friday afternoon. “And that frankly lit a bunch of fires.”
Windhorst said that given the economic shortfall that the pandemic has caused the NBA, expansion makes sense given when the league has expanded in the past. “Historically, the NBA has expanded coming off times where there’s been some financial hardship for the league,” he said. “And I think there are people in the league office who would square up with me and really duke it out with me if I implied that just because they’re having some financial difficulties, they would expand to buy their way out of it. So I don’t necessarily want to qualify it with that, but again, historically if you go back and look at the expansions in the ’70s, in the ’80s and in the ’90s, it came when the league could use an influx of money and expansion is a way to get fast money. I think the conditions are more favorable than they’ve been in a long time for this to happen.”
The league likes to keep such things close to the vest, but trust me: The door is open, for the first time in a long time. “I would agree that there is discussion but no decision,” one governor said this week, a sentiment echoed by another.
Another high-ranking team executive said it was unlikely any serious consideration of expansion would happen at least before the end of the 2021-22 season. At any rate, expansion remains the much more likely route for cities currently without NBA teams in the next few years than relocation. And Seattle is at the top of the list. Seattle stands ready, the obvious top candidate for expansion, with Las Vegas and Vancouver leading the list of cities that could be a second site if the NBA opted to expand by two.
There is also Amazon, the Jeff Bezos behemoth headquartered in Seattle. Getting Bezos or any of his fellow billionaire top Amazon execs directly involved with an NBA team there would obviously be the Holy Grail for the league. (Of course, Bezos is already indirectly engaged, his company having bought the naming rights to Climate Pledge; the name derives from a 2019 pledge that Amazon and Global Optimism, a climate crisis organization, made pledging their companies would produce net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. That would be 10 years before the 2050 deadline set for net-zero global carbon emissions by the Paris Climate Agreement.)
Not surprisingly, Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan welcomed the news, and told Seattle television station KING 5 on Thursday that she is “pretty optimistic” a team will return to the city, which lost the SuperSonics after the 2008 season when the organization moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. Durkan and Silver spoke on the phone before the holidays, the mayor said. “It is very good news for the city of Seattle that they are thinking of an expansion team,” Durkan told KING 5. “And I was honest with him. He knows Seattle wants to be at the front of the line. We’re where the team should be. But we will be respecting them as they move forward to their ownership because the (owners), you know, has to approve it.”
The NHL’s expansion into Seattle will be official next season when the Kraken begin play. The Kraken will play in Climate Pledge Arena, a $1 billion edifice that will open by fall and will also house the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. Durkan said the arena is “NBA-ready.” (Kraken majority owner David Bonderman is a minority owner of the Boston Celtics.) “If there’s basketball karma, we’ll get the Sonics,” Durkan said. “If there’s economics involved, we’ll get the Sonics. If there’s just smart, what’s the best city in America, we’ll get the Sonics. So, I’m pretty optimistic.”
Durkan said these financial scenarios, among other reasons, might help expansion advance as an option among NBA owners, who are expected to discuss the possibility. “I think it’s real. But I think again, the commissioner is going to consult the ownership, and the ownership for the first time itself is being very public that they think [expansion] is probably a good idea for basketball,” the mayor said. “Part of that is the COVID economics. Part of it is the economics of sports. But look, there’s no city that I think is better positioned to be successful.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan recently spoke with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and left feeling “pretty optimistic” about the prospects of a return of the Seattle Sonics. Durkan told KING 5 she spoke with Silver via phone just before Christmas after the commissioner let it slip that the league was re-examining expansion prospects and that Seattle was at the top of the list.
She continued, “I think it’s real. But I think again, the commissioner is going to, you know, consult the ownership, and the ownership for the first time itself is being very public that they think it is probably a good idea for basketball. Part of that is the COVID economics. Part of it is the economics of sports. But look, there’s no city that I think is better positioned to be successful. We’re going to have the best arena in the country. I’m not just saying that when people walk in that building, they will be amazed. We are a city that even with COVID, when we come out of COVID, we have so much upside here.”
What if an NBA team at Amalie Arena were the norm and not the exception? “I would love to have an NBA, a WNBA team as well here in Tampa,” Mayor Jane Castor said.
Officials within the league office have floated a price tag of $2.5 billion each for two expansion teams to join the NBA in the near future, sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Unlike other major revenue streams, owners would not have to share that money with players and could result in $160 million per team, which would effectively eliminate the debt currently piling up. There could be multiple offers from cities like Seattle or Las Vegas.
The league’s last expansion came in 2004, when it launched the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets). The expansion fee of $300 million back then seems quaint, if not laughably low, less than two decades later. By all accounts, the starting point for the next expansion fee will be $1 billion. In 2017 an unnamed owner told The Athletic’s David Aldridge the number would be $2 billion. And last week, on The Bill Simmons Podcast, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tossed out the number $3 billion.
Here’s Cuban explaining to Simmons why he voted against the Charlotte expansion: “The $300 million we took as an expansion fee, now all of a sudden Charlotte gets one-30th of all of the shared revenue, right? If that was $30 million, just to pick a number out of the air, and they’re getting $30 million every year, well, in 10 years they get all their money back, right? So all it was was a loan to us. I tried to explain that to some of the old-school owners who were involved, and it just didn’t resonate with them. They just didn’t understand it. And now that $300 million looks like the bargain of all time.”
Mark Cuban: “OK, maybe you can make that argument that it is. But it always comes down to, is there some incremental value? Like, having somebody in Vegas, having a team in Seattle, as an example. Will we increase the pie big enough to more than compensate the money that we’re giving them? “ … I’m not saying it’s not possible. I kind of like the idea at a lot of levels, because I think Seattle would add incremental value in different ways.”
While decisions on when and where are probably years away, Silver’s statement revived hope that a professional basketball franchise might eventually land in Louisville more than four decades after the demise of the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels. “I have not talked to the commissioner, but I was obviously excited to hear his comments,” said Dan Issel, president of the NBA2LOU organization. “We’ve been saying for the last couple months that (expansion) almost seems inevitable when you look at the financial health of the NBA and what they’ve had to go through with the bubble in Orlando and no fans or very few fans starting out this season.”
“I don’t think he’s had a single conversation, as he told me, not with any city or any individual representing a city regarding expansion,” Goodman said. If the NBA were to expand, Goodman said Las Vegas is eager to be considered. “I can assure you that we’re right there. And we would look forward to it. I think in time, we would just be a perfect fit. … He knows we’re right there. That’s what I know directly from him, which I think is most significant.”
Goodman was effusive in her assessment of the league’s relationship with the city. “We’re ready, willing and able and have a great relationship there and would look forward to the (NBA) in our city as soon as we could get it going,” Goodman said. Of her persistence in seeking an NBA franchise for Las Vegas, Goodman said, “I think I’m more annoying to (Silver) than anybody else, … I know he sees the advantage of the Las Vegas area for an expansion team at the right time.”
In a change from his past statements on the topic of expansion, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Monday afternoon that the league has looked at its analysis of the ramifications of expanding beyond 30 teams. “I think I’ve always said that it’s sort of the manifest destiny of the league that you expand at some point,” Silver said during his annual preseason availability with reporters. “I’d say it’s caused us to maybe dust off some of the analyses on the economic and competitive impacts of expansion. We’ve been putting a little bit more time into it than we were pre-pandemic. But certainly not to the point that expansion is on the front burner.”
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.”
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.”
Junior Bridgeman is not bringing the Toronto Raptors to town. Not even temporarily. The 67-year-old entrepreneur, who built an empire worth an estimated $600 million following a distinguished basketball career, said Thursday “the time has passed” for his pursuit of an NBA franchise for Louisville.
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.”
The former CEO of MGM Resorts International expects Las Vegas will get a National Basketball Association franchise within the next few years. Speaking today at an online Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance event, Jim Murren said the Las Vegas area’s relationship with the NBA, through hosting Summer League games and the Las Vegas Aces WNBA franchise, help make it an attractive option.
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.
As COVID-19 takes its toll on professional sports, as money grows tight and certainty scarce, the possibility of NBA expansion or relocation becomes increasingly plausible. “The quickest way for the owners to make up any shortfall in revenue is expansion,” said Dan Issel, president of NBA2LOU. “Those expansion fees would be sizable and they don’t have to split that with the players.”
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.”
@Brian M. As you know, I would LOVE for the NBA to go back to Seattle. What I was told by owners well before the pandemic was that it was unlikely there’d be much support for expansion until at least the next TV deal (which is set to expire in 2024) is done. So I’m not holding out much hope at present for a groundswell of support for new teams. If this season were, for some reason, ultimately cancelled, maybe some feelings would change.
Though it is just a reported possibility, Granger said he wants to be prepared if it ever did gain some traction, saying it could help prove Louisville would be a good future home for a permanent team. “We’re trying just to make sure the experience is second to none for the NBA,” Granger said. “This would be an opportunity for us to showcase to the NBA what we’re capable of doing.”
“Winning that championship with the Colonels in Louisville is why I’m involved with our present endeavor, to get the NBA back to Louisville,” Dan Issel told the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce audience. “Remembering that championship, how special it was, and what a great feeling everybody in Kentucky had about having a championship team was terrific,” Issel said. “That’s something I would like to see duplicated.”
Louisville can’t just ask for an NBA team. “The frustrating part is that there is nothing we can do to make the NBA go any faster,” Issel said. “Their position is that expansion is not on the table. That will be their position until the day they decide to start taking applications.”
Louisville Business First reported in November that the group has pledges of at least $3 million for startup costs. They are working to attract an owner or majority investors to generate an estimated $1.4 billion to start the franchise. “I don’t know if we will ever have professional basketball here, but it won’t be from lack of trying,” Issel said. “We have a tremendous group of people who
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?”
Rick Welts: “I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to make the prediction that the next team — the next new market in the NBA — will be Seattle. But the path on how we get there is pretty murky right now.”
Prior to the game, a “Vancouver wants the NBA back” rally took place outside the arena. That movement, led by Finding Big Country filmmaker Kat Jayme, appeared to spread inside Rogers Arena as well. Late in the game, a “We want Grizzlies” chant filled the arena.
Mexico City, Las Vegas and, of course, Seattle have all been mentioned regularly in recent years as potential destinations for expansion — or franchise relocation should any current team move. Vancouver, Louisville and Kansas City are three more cities vying for consideration. I can’t put them all in a firm order beyond listing Seattle at No. 1
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.
“While we, of course, don’t have an NBA team in Las Vegas, this seems like the next best thing,” Silver said. “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. Everybody is seemingly in town both to enjoy the basketball and to enjoy the city.”
Mason Plumlee: It’s time for the NBA to take the next step in its international expansion and bring the NBA to Mexico City. Not for an occasional game. Not for a G-League franchise. But for the full NBA experience. Give tens of millions of fans a rooting interest. Create new opportunities for our players and the local economy. Make a global statement.
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.
The long shot is finding a team. Either one of the leagues would have to expand or an owner would have to move a team to Kansas City. A city spokesperson said Kansas City is not soliciting professional teams, but that it would be happy to land an NBA or NHL team, if the city was approached.
Ryan Wolstat: Grange asks Silver about Canadian expansion: “my answer is the same as it has been for other U.S. cities: we’re just not in expansion mode.” Says at some point will turn back to expansion but not at this time.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is thrilled with the growth of basketball in Canada, and left the door open for a potential return to Vancouver. Speaking from the NBA’s league headquarters in New York with CBC’s Rosemary Barton on the Sunday edition of the National, Silver spoke in depth about Vancouver — a city he has visited and knows well.
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.”
Dan Issel has now come full circle with this effort to bring professional basketball back to Louisville where his career began with the Colonels. “We are fighting the perception that Louisville and Kentucky cannot support a professional basketball team,” Issel said. “We have reams of data that proves Louisville, Kentucky, can support a professional basketball team.”
He added that Louisville would have gotten the original Charlotte Hornets team before they ultimately relocated to New Orleans if it hadn’t been for opposition from the former leadership at UofL.
“Bringing an NBA team to Kentucky could heavily stimulate the economy across the entire commonwealth,” organizers say. “The creation of new jobs, potential to attract outside dollars and additional income tax dollars would benefit the entire state of Kentucky — not just the city in which the NBA team is hosted.”
Do you think there’s scope for more games in London, perhaps an All-Star in the future? Bradley Beal: Probably, I wouldn’t even be surprised if they had a team eventually over here. It’d be crazy – I definitely hope it will happen one day. So why not, that’s my opinion!
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.
In a wide ranging interview Sunday with the Business Journal, Richard Chaifetz affirmed the sentiment that he thinks St. Louis is an NBA city. Would he be interesting in owning a local NBA team or helping to bring the league to St. Louis? “I’d love to be involved with a team in St. Louis in the NBA. It’d be great for the city,” he said.
Yet after 42 years of tilting at windmills in pursuit of a professional basketball franchise, the 78-year-old attorney J. Bruce Miller remains disinclined to abandon his incomplete quest. Miller still believes there is a billionaire “out there” who can be convinced to bring the NBA to Louisville, and he continues to chase that oft-dashed dream despite his advancing age and amid perceptions of his diminishing influence.
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.”
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.
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.
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August 5, 2021 | 4:09 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: The Charlotte Hornets have emerged with strong interest in a potential offer sheet for Chicago restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium . RFAs can begin signing sheets Friday.
Will Guillory: Pelicans released their 2021 Summer League roster. Trey Murphy will be added once the Memphis trade is completed. pic.twitter.com/tqXzQ5dam7
August 5, 2021 | 3:28 pm EDT Update
Three-time Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams has agreed to a one-year, $5 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks, agent Wallace Prather of Par-Lay Sports and Entertainment told HoopsHype. Williams had significant interest from several contenders, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, and Milwaukee Bucks, league sources told HoopsHype.
Adrian Griffin — Toronto Raptors assistant coach and ex-NBA player — is firing back at his ex-wife, suing for libel after she accused the hoops coach of domestic violence on social media. 47-year-old Griffin filed a defamation suit in New York … blasting ex, Audrey Sterling, as a bitter woman, hell-bent on destroying his life and career by any means necessary.