Will the NBA's unprecedented Porter ban permanently derail its expansion plans?

Adam Silver
Adam Silver / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA world was caught by surprise when the league announced that it was banning former Toronto Raptors big man Jontay Porter for life for gambling.

While that seems completely justified, it does raise some interesting questions about the NBA as well as the possibility of expansion. After all, in recent years, the NBA has embraced sports betting.

Not only that but Las Vegas is seen as the frontrunner to land an expansion team in the near future. Although the Porter situation is the first of its kind in the NBA, it does raise concerns about whether putting a team in the gambling capital of the world would increase the chances of something similar happening again.

To his credit, Commissioner Adam Silver dropped the hammer on Porter, which might make players think twice. Of course, throwing the book at a player on a two-way contract is a lot easier than doing it to a star, and if Las Vegas does get an expansion team, it seems like a safe bet that the NBA will be closely monitoring their players for any irregularities like the ones they found with Porter.

Is NBA expansion in Las Vegas still a good idea for the league?

Despite the risks associated with moving a team to Vegas, it is still absolutely worth it for the NBA to do so. The league has become wildly popular, especially internationally, leading to a dramatic increase in basketball-related income (BRI).

Things like jersey sales, television revenue, and subscriptions to NBA League Pass have led to a major increase in player salaries, which has led to increasing discussion about expansion. Expansion would make sense for players, owners, and the league itself.

The players would add 30 new jobs, 36 including the up to three two-way roster spots each franchise can now utilize and, unlike in years past, there is plenty of talent to go around. Meanwhile, the owners would be able to split the revenue that comes with adding two new expansion teams amongst themselves.

That could be a total of $8 billion, or $4 billion per new franchise, while also seeing the BRI, which is split with the players  divided among 32 teams instead of 30. That could result in a slowing of the increasing salary cap. As for Silver and the league itself, adding two new teams—probably Las Vegas and Seattle—would bring two major markets into the fold.

Not only that but the NBA has made inroads in both markets, with the Summer League, the NBA Cup Finals, and a recent all-star weekend all being held in Vegas. Not to mention, Seattle was previously home to the SuperSonics, who were very popular and could be again if they were bought back.

Overall, despite the controversy surrounding the Porter situation, it is unlikely to dissuade the NBA from expanding into Las Vegas. While that could lead to similar issues down the road for the NBA, the benefits outweigh the potential downside.