Las Vegas NBA Expansion: Commissioner Adam Silver Says Don’t Soon Bet On It

Posted on: June 2, 2022, 06:48h. 

Last updated on: June 3, 2022, 11:24h.

The NBA-to-Las Vegas rumor mill may be poised for closure, and a lengthy one at that, as Commissioner Adam Silver refuted the notion the league will be expanding over the next several years.

NBA Las Vegas
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. He put the kibosh on Las Vegas rumors today. (Image: Bleacher Report)

In remarks delivered earlier today prior to the start of the NBA Finals, Silver refuted the oft-mentioned rumor that the association is looking to add two teams following the 2024 season. That speculation has largely centered around two cities – Las Vegas and Seattle.

That talk is not true,” said Silver. “We are not discussing that at this time. As I’ve said before, at some point, this league will invariably expand. Just not at this moment that we’re discussing it.”

The commissioner’s comments arrive barely more than a week after a well-known Portland sports columnist said the NBA is readying current owners for expansion news. He claimed that the new teams will definitely be located in Las Vegas and Seattle.

It’s All About Talent

The long-running NBA/Las Vegas rumor also centers around the 2024 season. But that’s likely inaccurate, because the league’s media rights deal doesn’t expire until the end of the 2025 season, making expansion prior to that difficult, if not impossible.

Seattle, home to the Supersonics from 1967 through 2008, is in the same boat as Sin City. The NBA has 30 teams, and expansion is likely to come in the form of an even number.

In the comments he made today, Silver doesn’t take issue with Las Vegas and Seattle as NBA cities. Rather, he expresses concern about the potential dilution of talent that could come with the addition of two new franchises.

“As I’ve said before, I find it remarkable that when you have the second-most played sport in the world after soccer, you have the 450 best in the world in this league, and there’s a few that separate themselves as the very best of the best. But there is a drop-off in talent after that. Expansion creates a certain amount of dilution,” said the commissioner.

Las Vegas fans may take issue with those comments on the basis that the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season. However, comparable success is far from guaranteed in NBA expansion. For example, the New Orleans Pelicans — the association’s youngest franchise — has never played in a conference finals, and previous NBA expansion teams needed several years before making postseason appearances.

NBA Bullish on Las Vegas, Seattle

While fans in Las Vegas and Seattle are likely somewhat jilted following Silver comments, the commissioner praised both cities, while leaving the door open to eventually having franchises in those locations.

“Those are wonderful markets,” he said. “Las Vegas has shown itself to be a great pro sports market as well.”

The largest domestic casino center will again host the NBA Summer League starting next month, and the Los Angeles Lakers — one of the association’s most venerable franchises — will play two exhibition games in Las Vegas in October.