Expansion in the NBA is on the horizon. The exact timetable for when that happens is unknown, but according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, sources told him that officials have floated a price tag of $2.5 billion each for two expansion teams. That would grow the league to 32 total teams.
One reason for the rush on expansion is that fees are not split with the players. This kind of haul would bring about $160 million per team, which could wipe out the massive debt that’s piling up due to the pandemic.
The Utah Jazz was sold for $1.66 billion last month to tech billionaire Ryan Smith. The Jazz is one of the smallest markets in the NBA. Who’s to say what could happen in an area like Las Vegas or Seattle? If the NBA added a team, where would be the best fit?
Any of these five destinations could be a start.
Bring back the Baltimore Bullets. Before the Washington Wizards were a team, the team was called the Washington Bullets. Before that, the team played in Baltimore from 1963 to 1973. The area has two professional football franchises, so why couldn’t the area handle two basketball teams?
Until 1997, the Wizards and Bullets played a couple of home games in Baltimore each year. It’s been over two decades, so this could be the time to bring basketball back to Baltimore. Instead, this time, it could be a new rivalry.
4. Mexico City
In the wake of a pandemic, this would be the worst possible choice because of travel restrictions. In the National Hockey League, all Canadian teams have to stay put. In basketball, there is one team based in Canada in Toronto. Mexico seems like the next destination for the NBA to expand its brand across the world.
Mexico City has hosted regular-season games every year since 2014. Their location has been cited as an area for the G-League. Mexico City has more people than New York City and Philadelphia combined, so filling the seats would not be a problem. If fans support their team as they do in soccer, this would be a true home-court advantage. A great name for the team could be the Aztecs.
3. St. Louis
St. Louis has some of the best fans that support both their baseball team, the Cardinals, and their hockey team, the Blues. In the last 15 years, St. Louis has seen two World Series championships and a Stanley Cup Championship. If you have seen any of these teams compete, you know that fans show up to every game, every night.
After the 2015 football season, the St. Louis Rams became the Los Angeles Rams. A third sports team is missing in St. Louis, so why not bring a basketball team to Missouri. They would be a perfect fit for the Central Division with the Chicago Bulls or Milwaukee Bucks. A great name for the team would be the Arches. Chicago and St. Lous already have the longest rivalry in baseball, so this would be a perfect addition to the league.
2. Las Vegas
Amazingly, it took until the last decade for Las Vegas to add a professional football and hockey team. Since Vegas is building around their city, why not add a basketball team? Vegas has the “it” factor. Gambling is legal. Casinos are everywhere. It’s the city that never sleeps. This would be a crowd-pleaser.
Basketball is no stranger to Vegas either. In 2007, the NBA All-Star game was held there. The NBA Summer League has run in Vegas since 2004. A great name for this franchise could be the Aces. If the league is serious about expanding, it would not be shocking to see “Sin City” at the top of the list.
Fans have been calling for the return of the Seattle SuperSonics since the team left for Oklahoma City. No team deserves an NBA team more than Seattle. There’s hope for the city. The Charlotte Hornets saw their team bolt for New Orleans but reimagined their identity. Even though the Thunder will never come back, the SuperSonics could rebuild their brand.
Imagine having an arena with the jerseys of Gary Payton, Ray Allen, and Lenny Wilkins hanging from the rafters. Even though Seattle hasn’t had a team since the 2008-2009 season, it would feel normal if Seattle had basketball again.