The NBA will definitely expansion its way out of this pandemic hole

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If expansion is in Adam Silver’s future, can expect to see teams in Seattle and Vegas.
If expansion is in Adam Silver’s future, can expect to see teams in Seattle and Vegas.
Image: Getty/AP

It was the most interesting note out of Adam Silver’s preseason launch meeting with the press. While he addressed what it would take for the season to be halted again, as well as some other issues, he also let it out that the NBA was dusting off the box marked “expansion plans” for another look.

This is the same thing we talked about with MLB not so long ago. While their claims of losses will always be dubious until they come out, open their books (never going to happen) and prove it, there’s clearly a loss of revenue for this league without having had fans for the playoffs and not having full houses at all for this season, most likely. While that won’t cripple any team, these guys need the same fix that they always got before, if not more. That’s the thing about being an addict, which these guys are when it comes to income. The same amount every time eventually is not enough, and any drop is disaster. I used to do a little, but a little wouldn’t do it so the little got more and more, as it were.


Adding two expansion teams to bring the league count to 32 would add some $2B to NBA owners’ accounts, without having to be shared by the players. And that’s not even getting into the revenues those teams would drive locally. It doesn’t have to be shared with the players, who would be placated by the 30 new jobs opening up.

There are some easy locales to pick out. A return of the Sonics to Seattle — who would have a building ready by the time the NBA got around to this — seems a sure bet, and that market would be ravenous in buying up anything in green and yellow. Vegas has a building ready to go, and a guaranteed sellout pretty much every night (if the Knights can do it…). Which would easily move New Orleans and Memphis to the East, which should have happened long ago.


Silver mentioned competitive issues, but that isn’t going to stop anyone once they get a whiff.

The worry, such as it is, is that in a post-pandemic world, it would be hard to find groups or individuals to stump up $1 billion for the right to be in the playground with the cool kids. But if there’s one thing guys like this can’t resist is proving how rich they are, and the quickest and surest way to do that is to own a sports team. These guys can’t fucking resist. If the NBA were to throw open the door, they’d come crashing through like The Three Stooges.

Would $2 billion cover what the owners are losing on ticket sales? Probably not, but it would be close. Silver estimated that having no or limited fans would cost the NBA about 40 percent of its revenues. As they were estimated at just over $10B, two expansion fees would be just about half of their “losses.”

If you’re a betting person, Vegas and Seattle will have teams by 2025.

It’s amazing that it took NFL teams 14 damn weeks to realize that a 38-year-old quarterback coming off major arm surgery wouldn’t be able to throw the ball more than 12 feet, but they finally got there. The Steelers lost their third game in a row, and it was the fourth in a row in which they failed to crack 20 points, this time to the collection of misfits and lost and found discoveries known as the Cincinnati Bengals 27-17. Ben Roethlisberger was awful, not even averaging five yards per attempt, as the Bengals dared him to throw the ball harder and farther than Jamie Moyer, and he couldn’t do it.


The loss means they’ve almost certainly coughed up any chance of a bye in the postseason to the Chiefs, and are looking more and more like they’ll be chum for any first-round opponent. Were that to come about, the Steelers would face serious questions this offseason about moving on from their rag-armed, pea-brained QB, and those answers will almost certainly be yes. The problem is that they’ll still draft way down in the first round, which won’t put them anywhere near the first four or five QBs in the draft.

But they’ll need to figure out something, because it’s unlikely that Big Ben is going to get better at 39.