With the continued success of the NBA, expansion is always a divisive talking point for fans.
NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver has tried his best to silence the chatter, but even with the league’s boss attempting to cool rumours –there seems no way to kill expansion specualtion effectively.
Despite the clear lack of immediate expansion opportunities, there are plenty of cities that could prove capable of hosting a new NBA franchise in the future. Whether it’s a fairytale return to a city or the introduction of an entirely new market, here are some of the areas which could prove realistic destinations for future franchises.
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The Second Supersonics: Seattle, Washington
Gary Payton, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and Kevin Durant. All were former players for one of the most missed NBA teams of all time – the Seattle Supersonics.
The franchise itself was in place from 1967 until 2008, and following almost a decade of basketball silence in the state of Washington, the city of Seattle is now top of most NBA fans’ expansion team wish lists.
The history is certainly prevalent in Seattle, with six previous division titles, three conference titles and the 1979 NBA championship proving the Supersonics' credentials. This has only further boosted the city’s chances of bringing the team back into the fold via a future expansion, hopefully with those classic green and yellow uniforms in tow.
The only real issue combatting a potential return for the Supersonics is the need for a new arena, which was one of the deciding factors with the team’s previous relocation to Oklahoma City.
NBA in Nevada: Las Vegas, Nevada
Often used as an off-season stop for the NBA during the Summer League, Las Vegas has always proved to be an interesting proposition for a concrete franchise. However, there is a lot of controversy also involved which could limit any opportunity heading to the city of sin.
Whilst filling an arena wouldn’t be a major issue in Vegas thanks to the huge tourism industry in the city, the mixture of gambling and professional sports could deter the league from having a permanent franchise in Nevada.
However, considering the NBA’s constant use of the state during the off-season, a team eventually coming to Vegas is still a possibility, and one worth gambling on.
From College to the Pros: Louisville, Kentucky
One of the biggest cities in college basketball, the next major step for Louisville is to become home for a professional basketball franchise, and there’s little reason for Adam Silver to ignore it. Boasting one of the best arenas in the country, there’s already a good base for an NBA franchise and with the rich history of basketball in the state, getting fans in seats would be no issue.
Also, with no other major professional sports teams in the state, an NBA franchise would have no competition for exposure in a city that has a true love for basketball.
Of course, being untested ground, the league might favour more well-known areas ahead of Louisville.
Back to Canada: Vancouver, British Columbia
Whilst most NBA fans think of Toronto as the NBA city in Canada, many forget that Vancouver once boasted the Grizzlies franchise between 1995 and 2001. But whilst the team’s tenure was short-lived before heading to Memphis, there’s still prospect for a return to Canada for the NBA.
The city itself is one of the biggest and best in Canada, and with that in mind there’s little reason to expect attendances to be low. The biggest question mark for the NBA is whether they should consider venturing out from the US once again.
However, given the positives – it seems that a second NBA team in Canada could come sooner rather than later.
Across the Atlantic: Europe
London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid – take your pick, any of these European cities could prove an optimistic landing spot for a possible international NBA franchise. Even Adam Silver himself has commented on the possibility of a global expansion for the NBA, with one purported to be in the pipeline within 20 years.
The omens are good for European fans as well, with the yearly NBA Global Games proving immensely successful. The regular season games that have taken place in London have sold out in succession, and whilst it could be a challenge to bring a team abroad, it could prove fruitful for the NBA in the long run.
There’s even rumour pointing to the creation of a European division to help aid the logistical issues that could be possible having to travel across the Atlantic.
So, could we really see the NBA finally expand once again and include some of the above cities? Only time will tell, but it seems a forgone conclusion that soon enough, more and more locations will be graced with NBA franchises...