Most NBA fans right now are in a state of mourning after our dreams of a championship have come to an end. The Curry vs. LeBron match up is exciting for most fans but not everyone. For the rest of us there is a sense of intrigue on the horizon. The NBA plans to sign a major television deal for next season. What could this mean for the league going forward? It could mean a lot of things with a lot of different possibilities. While Adam Silver has mentioned that adding any expansion teams is not a high priority right now, I can't help but think it could be a negotiating tactic in the near future. 

 

Ever since the Seattle Supersonics moved and became the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008 there has always been rumors that Seattle wanted another team to return to Seattle. When the Sacramento Kings threatened to leave their area there was small rumors of moving to Seattle. In all reality it's extremely rare and difficult to move an NBA team. The threat of moving a team is more of a negotiating tactic than anything else.

 

For the 2016-2017 season the NBA is going to sign a new TV rights contract through 2025 for $2.67 billion. That's with a B! The old contract was for $930 million. That's quite the upgrade that's going to allow all the NBA franchises to up their salaries across the board. As a matter of fact it's likely that the salary caps will move from $63 million to $94 million. NBA players are already keeping their ears open to all the possibilities. Someone like Kevin Durant might command an average salary of $30 million a season! The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in the NBA expires in 2017 and a new one will have to be worked out between the players and the league once again. If an expansion team is to happen this is when we can hope for it to happen.

 

There's currently 30 teams in the NBA. The east and west conferences are split in half. I would suggest adding two new teams, one in each conference, to make it even at 32. The actual division in the NBA has become irrelevant. With free agency and the draft a team can go from nobody to a championship contender in a year or two. It's hard to really build division rivalries now-a-days in the NBA. Therefore if a division with a 6th team, while others in the league only have 5, doesn't really make it a big deal.

 

The last expansion team added was the Charlotte Bobcats in 2004, now the Charlotte Hornets as of 2014. It'll be over a decade since we've added a new team but the NBA as a whole seems to be trending upward in popularity. The new TV contract seems proof of this. I haven't done extensive research, this is all hypothetical at this point, but I have looked into untapped markets. As for untapped markets that would be a great fit for the NBA to add teams I would go with Las Vegas, Nevada and Louisville, Kentucky (Read more here as to why... Top 10 Untapped Markets in Sports). If you want to go with old familiars you could return a team to Seattle or perhaps Vancover. They should already have some form of infrastructure for a team and for games to be held. Through my general reading it appeared that times in Seattle were not always great and sometimes the franchise fell into the red when it came to finances. Therefore I'm sticking with Las Vegas and Louisville.

 

Some of the quick bonuses are that they would easily become Kentucky's and Nevada's new home town team as no other professional basketball teams reside here.

NBA Team Locations

 

It would also be an easy adjustment for adding to conferences. The Kentucky team to the East while Las Vegas would go to the West. Vegas has always been a unique market itself but I believe the fear of gambling has scared many owners off. The new commissioner Adam Silver has addressed gambling and has taken an interest into it. Given that the expansion of two teams wouldn't happen for a few years this issue could be addressed by then (Silver Report on Gambling). Personally I would suggest team names of the Las Vegas Renegades and the Kentucky Mustangs or Kentucky Cardinals.

 

How does it work? 

 

The last expansion drafted allowed each team to protect 8 players on their team that was under contract or that was restricted. Well since they are adding two new teams I would only allow teams to protect 7 players including their D league players. If each team held the maximum of 15 on their NBA rosters that would allow the two new teams the opportunity to pick from 240 players in the NBA. Each team would only be able to pick one player from each team so any team would only lose two players at most. There might not be any elite players but they could be some solid role players. I would flip a coin as to who gets the #1 pick in the expansion draft and then the loser gets the #1 pick in the NBA draft. In round two, the picks would then be flipped from #1 to #2 and #2 to #1.

 

A lot of things can changed but currently there are some elite talents that would be free agents for the 2017-2018 season.

Guards: Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Steph Curry, Chris Paul (P), Kyle Lowry (P), Kyle Korver, DeMar DeRozan

Fowards/Center: Taj Gibson, Dwight Howard, Serge Ibaka, Blake Griffin (P), Tiago Splitter

(P) = Player Option

 

Theoretically let's say that I'm the Las Vegas Renegades. I use ten picks on my expansion team. I sign a major free agent like Kyle Lowry (Age 31) to run my point. I use the #1 or #2 pick in the NBA draft to draft a scorer at SG or SF. I try to sign a talent like Taj Gibson (Age 32) who will be intrigued with a starting PF job opening. I sign other lesser/cheaper free agents and my 2nd round draft pick to fill out my needs. As bad as some of the teams are right now anyways, I could compete for an 8th spot right away and it would also scare teams off from trying to tank knowing that the top two picks are going to the expansion teams. Therefore making more teams competitive at least for that previous season.

 

The other 30 teams might be afraid of losing money from the two new mouths to feed but the new TV deal should cover this scare. They're still going to be getting more than they are currently getting this season. The league would finally be cut in half when it comes to teams making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. I would hope this would help the cream rise to the top and less teams under .500 getting into the playoffs. Perhaps even adopting a MLB playoff strategy and having the #8 and #9 seeds face each other in a one game series. I personally would enjoy that.

 

Overall I feel like the new TV deals opens up all sorts of possibilities. Players are going to want more money, and that could either mean more super teams or maybe less. I'm not real sure. I think the addition of two new teams in untapped markets could add extra revenue to the league for games, jersey sales, and more marketing contracts. It will also just create more jobs in the stadiums for those cities. There will be more buzz and excitement from fans for these two new teams as well.

 

All in all it's unlikely that the NBA will add two new expansion teams. The CBA is always a tough negotiation between the players and the league. The players are obviously going to want a chunk of the new TV revenue but I think it would be good business for the league to come to some sort of agreement of adding two new teams while also increasing the salary cap and player salaries within reason. If Adam Silver figures out a way to get involved in legalized betting he could also start to earn some extra revenue for gaming and teaming right somehow. This would help protect the league from any financial concerns and keep them in the green.

 

Sources:

http://www.nba.com/hornets/news/draft_central_expansion_rules_summary.html

http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/10/6/6917877/nba-tv-deal-24-billion-player-salaries

http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-am-is-exapansion-in-the-nba-next/

Published by Brian Argetsinger