THE NBA COULD RETURN TO SEATTLE
The Player’s Tribune reporter and Blazers’ star guard C.J. McCollum recently interviewed NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. The two meet for an interview every summer and discuss a variety of trending topics. This year the conversation included 3v3 basketball, sports betting, and league expansion. Silver stated, “Seattle will no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at.” The Commissioner did add that expansion isn’t in the league’s immediate future, but he does envision it being on the horizon. Silver brought up the recent social media rumblings about the NBA being watered down with only one really good team, and made clear he does not agree with that assessment of the league’s talent. But I also expect the NBA to hold off on expansion until the on-going salary cap inflation smooths out. It is no secret that if the city of Seattle wants the NBA to return, they need to build a world-class arena. And they are on their way to making that happen. The existing KeyArena’s renovation project has been assigned to a new group who promised a top of the line arena to house both an NBA and NHL franchise. If Seattle does get an NBA franchise, once again, I guarantee they will be named the Sonics. I also assume they will be allowed to assume their team history back from the Thunder, much as the Charlotte Hornets recently did. Envisioning the green and yellow SuperSonics uniforms harkens to memories of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, the Glove and the Rain Man, bringing Seattle to the NBA Finals in 1996 and going toe to toe with Michael Jordan. More prominently in my life as a fan would be Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, the original splash brothers. The city of Seattle is home to several current NBA players, most notably Jamal Crawford and Isaiah Thomas, who have been vocal about the city’s desire to bring back their team. The wounds of 2008 have not yet healed in hearts of the pacific northwest, although the recent divorce of Kevin Durant from the Thunder probably helps. And with the current plans to rebuild KeyArena, it seems as only a matter of time before an NBA franchise returns to Seattle. C.J. McCollum also asked Adam Silver his views on sports betting, and got an interesting response. The Commissioner acknowledged the existence of a multi-million dollar sports gambling community that is largely off the books. This makes it much more difficult to track for “aberrations”. Silver likened it to Wall Street, where because all the transactions are public record things like insider trading are more likely to get noticed. This also isn’t the first time Adam Silver has expressed an interest in expanding the league’s footprint in the sports betting world. He’s previously said that legalized betting would “increase fan participation and enjoyment throughout the game.” If the NBA did expand, let’s say in 3-5 years, the league would likely look to add two teams, to achieve a total of 32 teams, 16 per conference. I believe both Seattle and Las Vegas will be granted teams. Nevada’s stigma with professional sports leagues has died down some, as Vegas has landed an NHL team debuting this fall and plan to add an NFL team via relocation with the Oakland Raiders announcing they plan to move to the city within the next two years. These two cities make the most sense, in my opinion, for league expansion. Whenever Commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA Players Association, and the league’s owners all agree that expansion makes sense at some point in time. With these two teams being on the west coast, I believe two of either Minnesota, Memphis, or New Orleans will become Eastern Conference teams. Again, this is maybe three to five years in the future. Who knows what the league will look like then.