After months of speculation, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver essentially confirmed that the NBA would indeed look to expand in the near future. In fact, the process could begin as soon as the league’s new television contract is in place next year, and three surprise cities have already made it known that they want a new NBA franchise.
Vancouver, Montreal, and Mexico City would both be interesting choices for different reasons. With Vancouver, they previously had an NBA expansion team that failed and they relocated to Memphis. However, that was in the mid-to-late 1990s, and a lot has changed in 20+ years, including basketball in Canada. When the NBA added the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors in 1995, basketball wasn’t popular up north.
Does any city have a strong case for a new NBA franchise?
Although the Grizzlies failed, the Raptors eventually thrived and even won a championship in 2019, helping to rapidly expand basketball. While they may not be near the top of the NBA’s wish list when it comes to expansion, further branching out into Canada does make sense, and Vancouver and Montreal are far enough away from Toronto to have their own fan bases. Though, Vancouver has a much smaller population than the average NBA city, while Montreal’s is comparable in size.
As for Mexico City, the NBA has clearly been looking to expand its brand south of the border with the Mexico City Games. Given that Canada already has a successful team, Mexico City might be a higher priority.
Especially since it is the largest city in North America in terms of population, even more than New York, the most populous city in the U.S. Moreover, with teams such as the San Antonio Spurs already popular in Mexico, the league would probably have more success than they did when they initially tried to bring basketball to Canada.
The NBA season is now a few weeks old and trends are emerging, including which teams will dominate and which will struggle.
All in all, the NBA will have no shortage of cities vying for a new NBA team. While Vancouver, Montreal, and Mexico City would make great homes for new NBA franchises, they may have stiff competition from Seattle, and Las Vegas making it bids long shots.