Seattle SuperSonics Rumors
Last week, as a guest on One37 FM, Dallas Mavericks Chairman Mark Cuban was asked what is the NBA missing by not being in Seattle. “A lot of corporate sponsorship and a lot of great fans,” said Cuban. “A lot of people that miss the NBA, so we are missing a lot by not being there. Oklahoma City has been a great market I can’t take anything from them. And I am not saying anything that I have not already said before, but I think there is a future where Seattle has a team. I just don’t know when.”
Justin Kubatko: Russell Westbrook made his 1,000 career 3-pointer last night. He has the worst career 3P% among the 119 players to reach that mark: 30.5 – Westbrook 31.3 – Allen Iverson 31.7 – Gary Payton 32.0 – Vernon Maxwell 32.0 – Baron Davis pic.twitter.com/dKa4zPsq4f
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.”
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.”