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Adam Silver: There are no expansion plans for Seattle right now

Feb 12, 2014, 3:04 PM EST

Seattle skyline

Back when Sacramento was feverishly putting together a plan to keep their Kings from moving to Seattle (remember the Maloofs had a deal to sell the team to Chris Hansen’s Seattle group) a compromise often floated by fans and media was to put an expansion team in Seattle — both markets get a team. That never gained traction at the league office as most owners apparently did not want to further divide their revenue pie.

And it’s still a dead idea. At least for now.

Newly seated NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke with Brian Windhorst of ESPN and said that expansion to Seattle, or anywhere else, is not on the table right now.

“Seattle is a wonderful market. It would be very additive to the league to have a team there,” Silver said in an interview this week with ESPN. “But we’re not planning on expanding right now, so it’s not a function of price.”

Of course, price is the main issue here — it’s all about the money for the owners. As Mark Cuban laid out recently (quoted in that same story), the question the owners would consider is would their share of the expansion fee (whatever that would be) make it worth dividing up the television revenue pie a little bit more?

Silver needs to think about more than money, he needs to think about the good of the game.

“I and the owners will look at not only the dilution of economic opportunities with one more partner to divide national and international money but also dilution of talent,” Silver said. “Right now some are already making comments about the [Eastern Conference], so is it the ideal time to be adding another 15 or 30 players to the league?

“Ultimately I’m responsible for the financial and competitive health of a 30-team league, and while we made tremendous strides in the last collective bargaining agreement, we’re still not there yet. We don’t have 30 profitable teams in the NBA, and while we’ve made progress, there are still teams that aren’t competitive enough.”

Two things will keep any expansion plans on hold for at least a few more years. First, the NBA is in negotiations with its current partners (ESPN and Turner) as well as others about the next national television deal. Owners are not going to surrender any more television revenues until they see what kind of revenue bump they get with the next deal.

Also, remember that Milwaukee is in a substandard building (according to Silver) and it can move out come 2017. Bucks owner Herb Kohl is looking for investors to join him with the Bucks, but has said he only wants ones that would not move the team. Still, the league likes the idea of having Seattle and its deep pockets sitting out there as leverage (it worked in Sacramento, and the NFL has used Los Angeles in that way for more than a decade).

Seattle fans feel they were burned twice by the NBA, once when the Sonics/Thunder moved then with the Kings situation. How eager that ownership group and that market is to jump in and try to swipe another team remains to be seen.

But expansion is not coming to Seattle anytime soon.

  1. antistratfordian - Feb 12, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    The league has beef with Seattle’s politicians – and I do think Stern enjoys taking a jab at those guys every now and then. But when Stern says something curious about Seattle in the press, the people of Seattle think he’s taking a jab at them – Stern is only thinking about specific people.

    Crosscut.com on the situation after Seattle had lost its leverage to keep the Sonics: “NBA Commissioner David Stern, livid that the city persisted in taking its case to trial, accused [Slade] Gorton of waging a ‘scorched-earth’ campaign. If Gorton and the mayor [Nickels] persisted in attempting ‘to exact whatever pound of flesh is possible here,’ Stern warned, they might jeopardize Seattle’s chances of landing a replacement team anytime soon.”

    Sonics fans are collateral damage in this war of suits.

    • asimonetti88 - Feb 12, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      Stern is no longer commissioner of NBA, Greg Nickels is no longer mayor of Seattle, Christine Gregoire is no longer governor of Washington

      • casualcommenter - Feb 12, 2014 at 7:28 PM

        Lol.

        I love how the article’s title begins with “Adam Silver,” and the article consistently mentions that these are comments by Adam Silver, yet his comment is about how “So David Stern is taking a jab at Seattle’s politicians.”

        So we have an explanation for why he makes so many factual errors when talking about basketball despite visiting this blog every day. He doesn’t read any of the articles, or even the titles.

      • antistratfordian - Feb 12, 2014 at 9:43 PM

        You’re not using your brain again, casualcommenter (we’re all very surprised). The people I’m talking about are obviously the major players in the Seattle saga and Silver here is only repeating a Stern mandate. Stern just happens to be the person that Seattleites really despise – and tho he may be retired but the hate for him there hasn’t been – so whenever this topic comes up D.Stern is still relevant (there does not appear to be any fresh hate for Silver even though he has the same point of view as Stern on this and was aiding him the entire time). In any case, Seattle folk should be a little more angry with their own politicians rather than David Stern or the NBA, et al.

      • asimonetti88 - Feb 12, 2014 at 10:25 PM

        they should be mad at Howard Schultz

  2. sellahh - Feb 12, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Talk is Silver, silence is gold.

  3. seattlesuperchronic - Feb 12, 2014 at 4:25 PM

    Just don’t jerk us around, Mr. Silver.

    The Kings won their team fair and square, it was their team to lose. I want a team back in this city big time, but I’d hate to see another city lose their’s. I hate that we’re now considered “leverage”, not cool.

  4. starvingardens - Feb 12, 2014 at 4:49 PM

    Man I miss the days of Payton and Kemp… They should have never been sold. Good for OKC, but not the fans from Seattle. Durant would have probably brought a title to the city already.

    Dubs fan.

  5. joenash72 - Feb 12, 2014 at 5:04 PM

    Hanson/Ballmer will likely try and jump through the hoops to try and get the Bucks franchise. If that fails, probably move on.

  6. jimsjam33 - Feb 12, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    Be patient Seattle . We’ve only waited since 1994 for a football team in Los Angeles . Promises , Promises . Don’t hold your breath . You’ll drown .

  7. chiadam - Feb 12, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    I’m sure “it would be very additive…” is perfectly cromulent grammatically, but it sounds stupid.

  8. rdav29 - Feb 12, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    Add two teams to get to 32 and realign like the NFL. Seattle and either Baltimore, KC, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Columbus, or St Louis.

  9. seahonky - Feb 12, 2014 at 9:11 PM

    Who cares? NBA is dying.

  10. whoisrdymlz - Feb 13, 2014 at 8:01 AM

    They should be given back the team they. Expansion should have to come to OKC.

  11. kanemoney - Feb 17, 2014 at 2:22 AM

    I live in Seattle and it remains a huge void for the city. We have mostly filled it with the Sounders, our MLS team. There is epic parades before each home game and the majority of the stadium stands… the entire game. For many games, they have filled 50-60K of the Seahawks stadium.

    When we had the Sonics, they played in the Key Arena, which is one of the worst arenas in either Div 1 NCAA or NBA. The timing of the new arena discussions and the issue of public funding was just bad timing.

    Now the city is just being used as leverage to drive up the price of teams and drive negotiations with cities. While the NBA may want a team in Seattle, owners largely do not. The worse Seattle gets it, the more owners can point to Seattle. “You don’t want to be them”

    The larger problem is there is nearly no competitive parity in the NBA. The Heat were 2:1 to win the Championship… before the season even began! That’s disgusting.

    While the narrative of dynasties and GOAT are interesting, it ruins the sport.

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