The NBA is booming. It’s flush with cash (even though some teams can’t figure out how to spend it). Rosters are filling up with quality players who could make cases for added minutes elsewhere.
That’s been fueling the speculation that the time is right for expansion… something the commissioner has called “inevitable”
Now I don’t really believe that, and I think these things correct themselves. And I don’t want to put a precise timeline on it, but it’s inevitable at some point we’ll start looking at growth of franchises, that’s always been the case in this league, and Seattle will no doubt be on a short list of cities we’ll look at.
A third NBA owner said the $2 billion price for the Clippers should be “the starting point” for any expansion team’s entrance fee, whether in Seattle or the handful of other cities considered potential candidates for expansion — Las Vegas, Mexico City, Louisville, Kansas City or even Vancouver, which lost the Grizzlies to Memphis in 2001.
“It may sound like a crazy high number now, but so did the Dodgers (who sold for $2 billion in 2012), Clippers and other team sales prices,” the third owner said. “If you can revitalize part of a city or create a world-class arena that draws a new level of cultural events or anchors downtown, then the economics for the real estate dwarf what happens with the team. For someone who has the wealth and wants to leave his or her imprint on a city and state, an NBA team makes perfect sense.”
This is definitely not happening any time soon. But let’s just roll with it for a bit. The NBA is due for a realignment, so let’s take advantage of this theoretical expansion to do it. We’re going to even out these conferences and get things making more sense.
Step 1: Both expansion teams go West.
I’m going to give Seattle the team it deserves and put a team in Las Vegas because I want one there. Wherever they go, I want them in the West.
The West needs to be diluted a bit, and this is the way to do it. No one will care if a Vegas team sucks for a while because the locals will know to be patient and most of the people visiting will just enjoy the spectacle or go to see their favorite team.
Meanwhile, we can right a wrong with the Sonics and put them back where they belong. We need an owner there who will understand the situation and who won’t try to milk taxpayers for an arena.
Step 2: Move a team
I’m sorry New Orleans… I love you. I really do. You’re one of my favorite cities. But I just don’t think this team is sustainable there. The Pelicans are currently the league’s least valuable franchise and consistently in the bottom third in attendance. The diehard fans there are awesome… but the team just hasn’t been good enough to keep the casual fan around.
Congratulations, Kansas City. You get an NBA franchise. How cool would it be to create the NBA’s Kansas City Monarchs in red and white uniforms? I want to see it.
Step 3: Realignment
Let’s make this a real East/West thing once and for all, huh?
I’m keeping conferences and divisions. It’s not perfect but I’m keeping it. In fact, I’m adding a division in each conference.
The divisions are as regional as I can get them (the Central/Mid-American divisions are tricky). They encourage some regional rivalries and reduces some travel. Seeds will still be based on overall record so there’s no risk of a bad division winner getting home court over a better 2nd-place finisher (though it would still be used for tie-breakers)
Adding the expansion teams out West dilutes that powerhouse conference a bit and moving Memphis to the East makes geographic sense (and hopefully they can get better quickly to boost the East’s overall power). Each division has at least one currently good (or, in the Atlantic’s case, possibly good) team so there’s some distribution of power as well.
Again, we’re nowhere close to this, but it’s fun to think about what the future can bring.