SEATTLE SPORTS PIT

Expansion time? NBA agrees on media rights deal, AP source says

Jul 10, 2024, 3:42 PM | Updated: 3:46 pm

NBA expansion media rights logo general...

A basketball is placed on the court next to an NBA logo during a 2023 Summer League game. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The NBA has agreed to terms on its new media deal, an 11-year agreement worth $76 billion that could clear the way for a potential Seattle expansion team, assures player salaries will continue rising for the foreseeable future and will surely change how some viewers access the game for years to come.

Key domino for a Seattle NBA expansion team falling with Celtics for sale?

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the networks have the terms sheets, with the next step being for the league’s board of governors to approve the contracts.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Wednesday because they weren’t at liberty to discuss such impending matters.

The deal, which set NBA records for both its length and total value, goes into effect for the 2025-26 season. Games will continue being aired on ESPN and ABC, and now some will be going to NBC and Amazon Prime. TNT Sports, which has been part of the league’s broadcasting family since the 1980s, could be on its way out, but has five days to match one of the deals.

The five-day clock would begin once the league sends the finished contracts to TNT.

The Athletic was the first to report on the contracts.

The deal means attention could turn to the next major item on the to-do list for the NBA: Expansion.

Commissioner Adam Silver was very clear on the order of his top agenda items in recent seasons, those being preserving labor peace (which was achieved with the new CBA), getting a new media deal (now essentially completed) and then and only then would the league turn its attention toward adding new franchises. Las Vegas and Seattle are typically among the cities most prominently mentioned as top expansion candidates, with others such as Montreal, Vancouver and Kansas City expected to have groups with interest as well.

In the short term, the deal almost certainly means the league’s salary cap will rise 10% annually — the maximum allowed by the terms of the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBA and its players. That means players like Oklahoma City’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dallas’ Luka Doncic could be making around $80 million in the 2030-31 season and raises at least some possibility that top players may be earning somewhere near $100 million per season by the mid-2030s.

As the broadcast rights packages have grown in total value over the last 25 years, so, too, have salaries because of how much that revenue stream ends up fueling the salary cap.

When NBC and Turner agreed to a $2.6 billion, four-year deal that started with the 1998-99 season, the salary cap was $30 million per team and the average salary was around $2.5 million. The average salary this season exceeded $10 million per player — and it’s only going to keep going up from here.

When that NBC-Turner deal that started a quarter-century ago expired, the next deal — covering six seasons — cost ABC, ESPN and Turner about $4.6 billion. The next was a seven-year deal, costing those networks $7.4 billion.

The current deal, the one that will expire next season, smashed those records — nine years, nearly $24 billion.

And now, that seems like pocket change.

From the deal that started in 1998-99 to the one now struck to begin in 2025, the total value has climbed by about 2,800%. Factoring for inflation even between then and now, the value goes up about 1,400%.

This post includes alterations by Seattle Sports staff.

NBA Draft: WSU Cougars, Gonzaga players selected in second round

Seattle Sports Pit

NBA court general logo...

Joe Reedy

Warner Bros. Discovery informs NBA it will match Amazon’s offer

Warner Bros. Discovery informed the NBA Monday that it will match the $1.8 billion per year offer by Amazon Prime Video.

2 days ago

Kevin Durant Olympics USA basketball LeBron James Anthony Davis...

Tim Reynolds

Kevin Durant returns to US basketball team a week before Olympics

Kevin Durant practiced with the U.S. Olympic basketball team on Friday, a major step toward getting him back on track for the Paris Games that open next week.

5 days ago

nba expansion adam silver 2024 draft...

Tim Reynolds

As media deals take another step, NBA provides expansion update

With the NBA finalizing 11-year agreements worth about $76 billion, the next major project will be looking at whether it’s time for expansion.

7 days ago

NBA media rights finals...

Joe Reedy

What you need to know about NBA’s upcoming media rights deal

What does the new NBA media rights deal mean in addition to clearing the way for a potential Seattle Sonics return via expansion?

12 days ago

Seattle Sonics NBA Boston Celtics sale...

Brent Stecker

Key domino for Seattle Sonics return falling with Celtics for sale?

The return of the Seattle Sonics to the NBA could be one step closer to reality based on news regarding another franchise in the league.

23 days ago

Los Angeles Angels CF Mike Trout...

Joe Reedy

AL West Check-In: Angels star Mike Trout eyes late-July return

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout aims to return by late July from a torn meniscus in his knee that required surgery in May.

24 days ago

Expansion time? NBA agrees on media rights deal, AP source says