On the day that the 2020-21 NBA season tipped off, when league commissioner Adam Silver made his annual address to the media, he talked about how the pandemic has caused the league to "dust off some of the analyses on the economic and competitive impacts of expansion." That wasn't necessarily a green light to start assuming that the league was preparing for the addition of new teams, but considering the NBA has adamantly said in previous years that expansion was not on their minds, that's a huge shift in thought.
In the last week, the conversation around expansion has ramped up, with the league reportedly looking into the costs of adding two expansion teams, which could come with an entrance fee of $2.5 billion per team. Then there was the news that the mayor of Seattle has been in regular contact with Silver, and said she was "pretty optimistic" about the league returning to the Emerald City after bolting in 2008. However, it's not time just yet to start picking out which cities will be on the list of getting an NBA team, as it may be a couple of years before expansion is seriously considered.
"The league likes to keep such things close to the vest, but trust me: The door is open, for the first time in a long time.
"I would agree that there is discussion but no decision," one governor said this week, a sentiment echoed by another.
Another high-ranking team executive said it was unlikely any serious consideration of expansion would happen at least before the end of the 2021-22 season."
That's actually a lot sooner than many people probably expected, considering the amount of work that must go into adding not just one, but two expansion teams. However, the league is desperate for some instant cash flow amidst a global pandemic that has greatly affected their bottom line, and an easy way to do that is to add two teams at $2.5 billion apiece to split amongst the existing 30 teams in the league.
Either way, the fact that the league is seriously talking about the idea of expansion is noteworthy and something that will remain in the news for the foreseeable future.