New NBA commissioner douses hopes of Seattle expansion

Feb 12, 2014, 5:41 PM | Updated: Feb 13, 2014, 9:26 am

While NBA fans in Seattle have been hoping an expansion team might be in the cards for the hoops-starved city, new NBA commissioner Adam Silver dashed those dreams Wednesday in his first comments since taking over.

“Seattle is a wonderful market. It would be very additive to the league to have a team there,” Silver said in an interview this week with ESPN. “But we’re not planning on expanding right now, so it’s not a function of price.”

There had been some optimism the NBA would consider granting Seattle an expansion team after Silver took over from longtime commissioner David Stern.

That optimism was buoyed by comments from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who said earlier this season “there’s a good chance of (expansion) happening, but I have no idea when.”

Silver said expansion is off the table for now because not all 30 NBA teams are profitable and some face significant financial challenges.

The biggest worry in the league is Milwaukee, where Silver has said the aging Bradley Center was unfit for the NBA and the team needed a new arena to remain competitive. Longtime owner Herb Kohl announced in December he would sell a portion of the team, but only to investors who promised to keep the team in Milwaukee.

The situation is reminiscent of Sacramento, where the Kings’ former owners struck a deal with hedge fund manager Chris Hansen to sell the team and move it to Seattle. NBA owners ultimately voted against the sale, and the Kings were sold to a new investment group who struck a deal with the city to build a new arena.

While there’s little talk of the Bucks moving from Milwaukee to Seattle at this point, the Emerald City would undoubtedly be a desirable destination for the NBA if a deal can’t be struck in Milwaukee.

And Silver made clear the league finds Seattle an attractive market, which should offer some hope for those longing for the NBA’s return.

“[The Kings decision] should not have been received as a no to Seattle,” Silver said. “There’s no doubt if we were prepared to expand to Seattle right now, we’d get an enormous price for the franchise.”

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New NBA commissioner douses hopes of Seattle expansion