The anticipation for NBA expansion grew with each passing day. Commissioner Adam Silver’s consistent affirmation that expansion was inevitable only fueled the excitement further. At the 2023 NBA Finals, Silver once again found himself facing questions about the addition of more franchises. NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, on behalf of NBA TV, inquired about the possibility of expansion teams in cities like Seattle, Las Vegas, or other potential locations.
Silver acknowledged the potential for expansion, citing the completion of the collective bargaining agreement and the upcoming negotiations for new media rights packages as crucial steps before seriously considering expansion. With these priorities addressed, the commissioner expressed his belief that expanding the league made sense in the long run. He emphasized that successful organizations and the continuous growth of the NBA naturally attracted the interest of numerous great cities.
The idea of expanding the NBA had been on the table for quite some time. The last expansion occurred in 2004 when the Charlotte Bobcats, now known as the Hornets, joined the league. , noSince then, the NBA had witnessed record-breaking numbers and a consistent rise in the monetary value of its franchises. While settling the new CBA deal and media deals had taken precedence in recent seasons, the league had always kept the possibility of expansion open.
Silver had made it clear on multiple occasions that expansion was inevitable. He had previously addressed the topic at the press conference before the 2022 NBA Finals and reiterated it during the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. The commissioner anticipated that expansion talks would gain traction in a few years, allowing the league ample time to prepare for potential additions.
Las Vegas stood out as a prime candidate for expansion. The city had already welcomed other professional sports teams successfully, and its hosting of the NBA Summer League every offseason showcased its basketball passion. With a thriving sports community and enthusiastic fans, Las Vegas seemed like a natural fit for an NBA franchise.
As the rumors of expansion swirled, fans across the country eagerly awaited news of new teams. Cities like Seattle, long yearning for the return of an NBA team, hoped that their patience would soon be rewarded. The possibilities were endless, and the future of the NBA appeared brighter than ever with the prospect of expanding its reach and creating new basketball legacies.
After hearing the news of Silvers’ comments, Gary Payton then asked to comment.
“I think we will be okay, Adam Silver is great as a commissioner he knows what he’s talking about. We have already done the collective bargaining agreement, now we have to deal with the TV deal, which is going to be next year,” said Payton.
“I think we got a good chance of getting back in 2025-26, and it will be there. I’m not worried about that. I think Seattle is the first one on the list of getting an expansion team, and it should be that way. We should of never lost the team from day one, we had bad ownership at the time and that’s what was taken away from us. We been gone since to 2007, which has been 16 years, and we been fighting, I think Adam Silver knows that. I’m not worried about that we will be back soon, in fact I can guarantee that we will be back soon, we just have to wait for it to be a process.”