NBA Expansion Front-Runners: Seattle, Vegas

    • The NBA is prepared to expand in the coming years, with Seattle and Las Vegas the early frontrunners for cities that could host new teams.
    • Seattle, which lost the SuperSonics 13 years ago, is seen as especially likely.

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Thirteen years after the SuperSonics became the Oklahoma City Thunder, Seattle could once again be home to an NBA team.

There are rumblings that the NBA is looking to add two new teams, with Seattle and Las Vegas as possible homes.

Toronto Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri may be part of a potential ownership group with Oakview. The investment firm is refurbishing Climate Pledge Arena in preparation for the Seattle Kraken’s first NHL season.

The Kraken are co-owned by Tod Leiweke, brother of Oakview CEO Tim Leiweke.

  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife Ciara have been mentioned as potential co-owners of a new Seattle NBA team. The couple owns stakes in MLS’ Seattle Sounders. 
  • Kevin Garnett — who tried to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves before it sold to Alex Rodriguez — has expressed interest in bringing a team back to Seattle.
  • Las Vegas gained the NHL’s Golden Knights in 2017 and the NFL’s Raiders in 2020. The city could also land a new or relocating MLB team.

In January, reports surfaced that the expansion fee to join the NBA could be $2.5 billion. NBA commissioner Adam Silver was quick to call that number “very low.”

Whatever the fee, the cash injection would help counteract an estimated $880 million drop in revenue from 2019 to 2020, largely attributable to almost non-existent fan attendance during the pandemic.