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NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s first statement regarding potential expansion to Seattle, and it was a bit of disappointment for those who expected him to be the savior of the Sonics.
In an interview with ESPN, Silver said:
“Seattle is a wonderful market. It would be very additive to the league to have a team there. But we’re not planning on expanding right now, so it’s not a function of price.”
The question that inspired this answer was asked in response to the swelling of support for a Seattle expansion franchise in the national media.
For some in Seattle, this statement feels like too much like David Stern’s last few days in office; and it leaves them feeling like Seattle will be used as leverage by the league.
That is an over reaction on every level, and that is due to this simple fact: this is Adam Silver’s first week on the job. As a result, there are a lot of stuff that he needs to get in order before he even begins to examine expansion to Seattle and it could take some time before the league seriously discusses expansion.
One of the biggest issues confronting Adam Silver is the arena situation up in Milwaukee and whether or not the Bucks are going to continue to play there. Current owner Herb Kohl has stated that he has no intention of selling the team to anyone that plans on moving the franchise from the state of Milwaukee — in fact he is already trying to increase the number of investors to make the arena financing work.
There won’t be any change on the league’s official stance with regards to expansion until there is a term-sheet, or MOU, is reached between the Bucks and the City of Milwaukee.
But that doesn’t mean that expansion isn’t being examined by the league. After all, we know for a fact that there are some owners who are in favor of expansion. One of those owners is Mark Cuban, and he has said: “there’s a good chance of [expansion] happening, but I have no idea when.” (Windhorst, 2014)
The league could very well be working out whether or not it would be financially beneficial to expand, and a big part of that is going to be the TV contract that the league is currently negotiating. And as I discussed a few days ago, that could be very good news for Seattle.
That being said, 2017 could end up being a very crucial year for the Bucks and the SODO Arena. The Buck’s lease at the BMO Center expires in 2017, and the MOU between Hansen (and his ownership group) and the City of Seattle expires in September of that same year.
There is a ticking clock on this entire situation, and there is a limited amount of time for the NBA to figure this out.