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. – via Chris Daniels @ king5.com
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.” – via Chris Daniels @ king5.com
Expansion considerations unlikely until 2022?
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. – via David Aldridge @ The Athletic
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. – via David Aldridge @ The Athletic
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.” – via 710 AM ESPN Seattle
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.” – via 710 AM ESPN Seattle