SALT LAKE CITY – NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league will “invariably” think about expansion after coming to terms on a new CBA and a new national media rights contract in 2025.
That means it may be only a matter of time before the NBA begins the process of looking to put expansion teams in Las Vegas and Seattle after the 2024-2025 season.
“There haven’t been any discussions on expansion recently,” Silver said Saturday. “What I’ve said before, because the topic comes up a lot, I would say mainly people asking me or others in the league about it is that it is natural at some point that an organization expands. In this case because we’re both in a CBA cycle and a national media cycle, our current deals are up in two and a half years. The view from our governors has been let’s figure out exactly what the new CBA looks like, let’s figure out what our new media deals look like. Then let’s think about expansion. So invariably we will. There are no active discussions in the league office right now, but we’ll turn back to it in a few years”
The timing makes sense on a variety of levels and lines up perfectly for a storybook end to LeBron James’ career as he transitions into his post playing career aspirations.
James, who became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer last week and will play in his 19th NBA All-Star Game on Sunday in Salt Lake City, signed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers before this season that will take him through the 2024-2025 season and his 40th birthday. He has said he would like to be on the same NBA floor with his oldest son, Bronny, before he retires. Bronny, who is a senior at Sierra Canyon High School, is projected to be selected in the 2024 NBA Draft.
Crypto.com Arena, the home of the Lakers, is actively pursuing hosting the 2025 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles, which would be James’ last if he decides to retire at the end of the 2024-2025 season.
When he does retire, James has been very public about wanting to be part of the ownership group that brings an NBA team to Las Vegas.
“I would love to bring a team here at some point. That would be amazing,” James said last October following a Lakers preseason game in Las Vegas. “I know (NBA commissioner) Adam (Silver) is in Abu Dhabi right now… but he probably sees every single interview and transcript that comes through from NBA players. So, I want the team here, Adam. Thank you.”
On an episode of The Shop: Uninterrupted on HBO last year, James was talking about his desire to own an NBA team and said, “I want a team in Vegas. I want the team in Vegas.”
Many believe Las Vegas and Seattle are the most likely cities to be awarded an NBA team if the league expands to 32 teams. In such a scenario, Las Vegas and Seattle would be in the Western Conference and a team like the Minnesota Timberwolves would move to the Eastern Conference.
James’ interest in the sports scene in Las Vegas goes beyond wanting to own the city’s first NBA team. He said last year that he would like the city host the WNBA All-Star Game around the annual NBA Summer League. Las Vegas is already the home of Team USA basketball training camp.
The NBA announced last month that the 2023 WNBA All-Star Game would be played in Las Vegas and coincide with the final days of the NBA Summer League.