The NBA is expected to announce expansion in the near future, with two new teams soon joining the 30 existing franchises. In fact, there already appear to be two frontrunners to receive expansion teams: Las Vegas and Seattle, though there are other options.
Both Seattle and Las Vegas are markets full of potential revenue, with Las Vegas already having lured the Oakland Raiders and Oakland Athletics to Vegas. Meanwhile, Seattle is home to some of the biggest companies in the world, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks, and they previously had a highly successful team.
Nostalgia is in style right now, so why not a reboot of the Seattle Supersonics? While they are the two favorites for expansion, three other cities have recently been reported to have interest in landing an NBA team.
Vancouver, Montreal, and Mexico City would make for surprising choices at first glance, but each can make a strong case.
With several strong options, why should the NBA settle for just two teams?
With the NBA expected to announce two new franchises, introducing four new teams instead, as early as next year, would be surprising but not unprecedented. After all, the NFL currently has 32 franchises, the most of any major sport in North America, and while the NBA shouldn't look to add more teams to one-up the NFL, it would show growth.
The NFL may be the biggest sport in North America, but the NBA has rapidly grown in popularity internationally and more teams mean more games and more revenue for the league. In fact, the average NBA franchise is valued at nearly $4 billion. Still, the NBA could set the expansion fee for each team at around $2.5 billion and still generate $10 billion for the league's 30 ownership groups.
That enormous price wouldn't be shared with players, at least not initially, though it would create 60 NBA jobs and 12 two-way roster spots. While adding four new teams would likely decrease the salary cap, more teams would be obligated to spend on player salaries.
Adding four new teams would also change the conferences, with Vancouver, Mexico City, Las Vegas, and Seattle being out west. That could shift teams such as Minnesota, Memphis, New Orleans, and Oklahoma City to the Eastern Conference.
As far as the on-court product is concerned, the NBA is arguably deeper than ever before. Players are getting into the league younger, developing into stars faster, and maintaining that high level of play well into their mid-to-late 30s.
That has only increased the number of stars in the NBA and possible building blocks for teams to construct their rosters around. While it may take time for each new franchise to find a star to build around, there are several more entering the league every year.
Ultimately, the NBA may play it safe and decide on two expansion teams next year, with Seattle and Las Vegas being the probable choices. However, more expansion teams could and should soon follow, with Mexico City and Vancouver being strong candidates for new franchises too.