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NBA Expansion: Who is in Line for a Franchise?



During the NBA Finals, when the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets competed for the NBA Championship, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver took a moment on the NBA TV broadcast to discuss the potential for league expansion in the near future. This vision could materialize as early as next spring.

Silver explained, “Expansion is a possibility. We have prioritized completing our collective bargaining agreement, which we have now accomplished, and our focus will shift to understanding our new media packages, set to be finalized next spring. Once that is in place, we can turn our attention to expansion. While we don’t have any specific plans at the moment, it is a logical step for the league’s growth over time.”

Former NBA superstar and Seattle SuperSonics legend Gary Payton also weighed in on the topic, expressing confidence in Commissioner Silver’s leadership. Payton stated, “Adam Silver is an exceptional commissioner who knows what he’s doing. With the collective bargaining agreement already settled, our focus now shifts to the upcoming TV deal.”

When asked about the chances of the SuperSonics returning as an NBA franchise, Payton responded optimistically, “I believe we have a strong chance of returning in 2025-26. Seattle should be at the top of the list for expansion, and I’m not concerned about that. It’s only a matter of time.”

These comments from Silver and Payton raise the intriguing question of which cities could be next in line to receive an NBA franchise as the league aims to expand its reach in the ever-growing international sport of basketball.

LifeWallet Sports has compiled a list of 10 cities worldwide that have either had NBA teams in the past or could be potential hosts for an NBA franchise for the first time. These cities offer exciting possibilities for the future growth and development of the sport, as the NBA continues to extend its reach across the world.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas, a bustling city known for its tourism, daily attractions, and its status as the sports betting mecca of the world, has long been on the radar of the NBA. Over the past two decades, conversations have swirled around NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson expressing interest in owning a franchise there. Now, in 2023, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and boxing legend Floyd Mayweather have also shown interest in owning a Las Vegas basketball franchise.

The ties between Las Vegas and the world of basketball run even deeper. The city hosts the NBA Summer League every year, further solidifying its connection to the league. Las Vegas has already welcomed an NFL franchise, the Raiders, when they made the decision to leave Oakland, California, in 2020 and relocate to the entertainment capital of the world. In 2017, the city also became home to the Vegas Golden Knights, an NHL team that recently emerged as the champions of the Stanley Cup Final.

From personal experience, having visited Las Vegas during Super Bowl weekend in February, it is evident that the city would warmly embrace an NBA franchise. The enthusiasm and support would undoubtedly be overwhelming. Furthermore, Las Vegas is currently in the process of finalizing plans for a privately funded 20,000-seat basketball arena, which will be part of a larger $10 billion dollar, 66-acre hotel, gaming, and entertainment district. The city’s dedication to expanding its sports and entertainment offerings is undeniable.

Viva Las Vegas! With its vibrant atmosphere, strong ties to basketball, and ambitious plans for future development, Las Vegas appears poised to welcome an NBA franchise with open arms. The city’s readiness and enthusiasm make it a strong contender for the next expansion opportunity in professional basketball.


It’s a topic that has been widely discussed and passionately advocated for: the return of the Seattle SuperSonics as an NBA franchise. Fans have clamored for it, former NBA players have voiced their support, and NBA columnists have pleaded for the reunion.

The SuperSonics’ relocation from Seattle, Washington to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 2008 left a void that has yet to be filled. While the Thunder, the team that emerged in Oklahoma City, has experienced success with an NBA Finals appearance in 2012 and a roster featuring future superstars Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the desire for the SuperSonics’ return remains strong. The notion that an NBA team cannot thrive in a smaller market has been debunked, and the demand for Seattle’s basketball franchise has persisted.

Seattle boasts a rich sports landscape with the MLB’s Mariners, NFL’s Seahawks, and the newly-minted NHL team, the Kraken. The absence of an NBA franchise has left a void that needs to be filled. It simply hasn’t felt right since the SuperSonics departed the city and the league. Similar sentiments were felt when the Los Angeles Rams left for St. Louis in the NFL over three decades ago, only to return to Los Angeles in 2016. The same can be said for the Cleveland Browns, who were absent from the NFL from 1995 to 1998 before making their triumphant return. Certain things are deeply ingrained in professional sports, and the SuperSonics hold a special place among them.

The time has come for Seattle to reclaim its NBA franchise. The yearning for the SuperSonics to be reinstated resonates deeply, and it’s a step that would restore the balance and passion that has been missing since their departure. The return of the SuperSonics is not just a wish but a necessary reunification for the city and its devoted basketball fans.

San Diego

Is there room for another NBA team in California? Let’s explore this possibility. California has a profound love for basketball, with teams that have become internationally recognized brands. The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers boast the largest social media followings in the entire NBA, highlighting the significance of adding more professional sports teams to the city or state.

In the past, San Diego was home to the Los Angeles Clippers before their relocation in 1984. The loss of the Clippers, coupled with the departure of the Chargers from the NFL to Los Angeles in 2016, dealt a double blow to San Diego’s sports scene. While the city still has the Padres in the MLB and the Wave as a women’s soccer team, the recent departure of the Chargers may create an opening for the return of an NBA franchise. Additionally, San Diego’s beautiful weather and overall appeal make it an attractive destination for sports teams and fans alike.

Considering the passionate sports culture in California, along with the absence of an NBA team in San Diego, it could be well received by the city’s sports enthusiasts. The potential return of an NBA franchise would bring a renewed sense of excitement and provide fans with another team to rally behind. The allure of a vibrant city, coupled with the favorable weather, further strengthens the case for San Diego as a potential home for a new NBA team.

While the idea of adding another professional basketball team to California may raise eyebrows, the enthusiastic fanbase, social media following of existing teams, and the sports vacuum left by the Chargers’ departure indicate that the timing may be right. Exploring the possibility of bringing an NBA franchise back to San Diego is an intriguing prospect, one that could capture the hearts of the city’s sports fans and reignite their passion for professional basketball.

New Jersey

Since the Nets departed for Brooklyn, New York in 2012, the question arises: why not bring another NBA franchise to the Jersey Shore? New York City has long been home to the Knicks, and the loyalty of Nets fans in New Jersey was evident. With consistently good ticket sales and a competitive team during their tenure, including back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003, the impact of success cannot be overlooked.

However, New Jersey does face competition when it comes to capturing the attention and allegiance of fans, as neighboring New York State already hosts two NBA franchises. Despite this, a return of an NBA team to New Jersey is certainly feasible, raising the question of whether it will actually happen.

With the Jersey Shore being a stone’s throw away from the Big Apple, the allure of basketball in New Jersey could still thrive in the present day. While challenges exist, the possibility of another NBA franchise calling New Jersey home holds promise, tapping into the passion and enthusiasm of basketball fans in the region.


It’s no secret that Pittsburgh is a city with a deep love for its professional sports teams, boasting some of the most passionate and dedicated fans around. With three out of the four major North American sports teams already calling Pittsburgh home—the Pirates in the MLB, the Steelers in the NFL, and the Penguins in the NHL—the city has a proven track record of supporting and embracing its teams.

Pittsburgh has firmly established itself as one of the best sports towns in the United States, with a rich history of success across various sports. Adding an NBA franchise to the mix would not only further solidify the city’s status but also create an exciting in-state rivalry with the Philadelphia 76ers in Pennsylvania.

However, there is one requirement that must be met: any NBA team in Pittsburgh should proudly don the iconic black and yellow colors that have become synonymous with the city’s sports teams over the decades. This color scheme is deeply ingrained in the city’s identity and has been a staple for its sports franchises.

The time has come for Pittsburgh to have its own NBA team, providing an additional source of pride and excitement for its passionate fanbase. With the city’s proven history of supporting and rallying behind its teams, a Pittsburgh-based NBA franchise would undoubtedly receive unwavering support and add to the city’s storied sports legacy.


In 1996, the Baltimore Ravens emerged as an expansion team in the NFL and have since achieved two Super Bowl victories. The city of Baltimore has a rich sports history that includes hosting an NBA franchise, the Bullets, until their relocation to Washington, D.C. in 1973, where they eventually became the Washington Wizards.

The Ravens have become a beloved institution in the city since their inception, and the Orioles have established themselves as a well-accepted MLB franchise. However, Baltimore has also experienced the loss of another professional sports team in the past, most notably the departure of the Baltimore Colts from the NFL in 1984.

The prospect of a potential NBA team in Baltimore may present challenges. Any basketball team in the city would have to compete with the existing fanbase of the Washington Wizards, located just an hour away. While it may be a difficult endeavor to bring an NBA team to Baltimore, the city has a history of hosting a basketball team before, and the NBA has shown interest in returning to its former markets.

While the road to making it a reality may be challenging, Baltimore’s past basketball presence and the NBA’s willingness to revisit former cities offer a glimmer of hope for the return of professional basketball to this passionate sports city.


Why not consider the Music City, Nashville? Known for its vibrant music scene and drawing in plenty of tourists year-round, the city already boasts an NFL team, the Titans, and an NHL team, the Predators.

While the state of Tennessee is currently home to the Memphis Grizzlies, an NBA franchise, it’s worth noting that the NBA has shown a willingness to have multiple teams within a single state if there is enough demand. Nashville’s thriving sports culture and its existing fanbase for the Titans and Predators demonstrate the city’s potential as a destination for another professional sports team.

Nashville’s vibrant atmosphere, along with its status as a major entertainment hub, could create an ideal environment for an NBA franchise. The city’s diverse and passionate community, coupled with its already established sports infrastructure, provide a solid foundation for the introduction of another team.

With a rich tradition of music, an enthusiastic fanbase, and a track record of successfully hosting major sporting events, Nashville has all the ingredients to support an NBA team. The addition of basketball to the city’s sports landscape would further enhance its reputation as a thriving sports city and add another layer of excitement for local fans.

While the decision ultimately rests with the NBA and its evaluation of market potential, Nashville’s unique combination of music, tourism, and a supportive sports culture make it an intriguing candidate for future expansion or even a relocation of an NBA franchise.

Mexico City

More international basketball? It’s highly likely, as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has openly expressed that Mexico City is a genuine contender to receive an NBA franchise in the near future.

With a population of approximately 30 million NBA fans in Mexico, Mexico City is the country’s largest city and has already been a significant host for NBA games. Commissioner Silver’s endorsement adds further weight to the possibility of a basketball team being established in the city.

When the “commish” speaks, NBA fans tend to take notice, and in this case, his remarks strongly suggest that the prospects of an NBA franchise in Mexico City are promising. The city’s rich basketball culture, combined with its massive population and the NBA’s prior successful events held there, make it an enticing destination for expansion.

While no official decision has been made, the NBA’s interest in expanding its international reach, combined with the enthusiasm of the Mexican fanbase, suggests that Mexico City has a legitimate chance of welcoming its own NBA team. With all these factors in play, it’s increasingly plausible that basketball fans will witness the growth of the sport in Mexico’s vibrant capital.


Hasn’t this already been attempted and failed? Let’s acknowledge the past, but also recognize the significant changes that have occurred. The Vancouver Grizzlies’ venture as an NBA franchise in British Columbia, Canada, back in 1995 was unfortunately met with challenges, leading them to relocate to Memphis, Tennessee in 2001. However, it’s crucial to consider the context of that time.

In 1995, the NBA had not yet achieved the global prominence it displays today. The league had yet to witness the influx of international stars who would go on to dominate the game for decades. The rise of players like Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, Rudy Gobert, Domantas Sabonis, and many others transformed the NBA into a legitimate international league.

While notable international players like Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Arvydas Sabonis, and Drazen Petrovic made their mark before the turn of the millennium, the global landscape of the NBA was not as expansive as it is today. The league has significantly expanded beyond the borders of the United States, with players from all corners of the world showcasing their skills.

Look at the success of the Toronto Raptors, both on the court and financially, in recent years. The franchise’s value skyrocketed from $1.1 billion in 2017 to $3.1 billion in 2022, aided by their NBA Championship win in 2019. This demonstrates the potential for another NBA team to thrive in Canada. Vancouver, as a city that deserves a second chance at an NBA franchise, could benefit from the growth and international appeal of the league now.

The world has changed, and the NBA has evolved into a global phenomenon. With the success of the Raptors and the continued rise of international players, the timing may be right for Vancouver to reclaim its status as an NBA city. The desire for a second chance is not limited to any particular location but extends to any city, state, or country that demonstrates the passion and potential to support an NBA franchise.


This is indeed an intriguing idea, and it draws inspiration from the NFL’s successful venture in London, albeit on a grander scale. For years, the NFL has been hosting games in London, and in the upcoming 2023 regular season, they have plans for three games in the British capital.

Basketball, as a global sport, has witnessed a remarkable surge in the number of European players making their mark in the NBA over the past two decades. While the logistical challenges are undeniable, including the significant expenses for NBA teams and the extensive travel required for a hypothetical London-based expansion team’s 41 home games (assuming they don’t make the playoffs), the prospect of having an NBA franchise in London is undeniably intriguing.

London presents an interesting opportunity, particularly when considering the NBA’s current international growth. The establishment of an NBA franchise in Europe would be groundbreaking for all major North American sports leagues, potentially paving the way for similar ventures in the MLB, NFL, and NHL in the future.

Consider the impact of Inter Miami CF following the announcement of soccer superstar Lionel Messi joining the team. Almost overnight, Inter Miami CF skyrocketed to become one of the top-five most followed sports brands worldwide. Now, envision the excitement and magnitude that would accompany a polarizing NBA star playing for a European franchise based in London. Such a move would create a seismic shift, capturing the attention of fans globally and solidifying the NBA’s position as a truly international league.

The potential for growth and success is immense, especially with the presence of international NBA superstars and the growing interest in basketball around the world. London could become a hub for international basketball, captivating audiences and propelling the sport to new heights on a global scale.

While the idea poses significant challenges, it represents a bold step towards further globalizing the NBA and embracing the worldwide appeal of basketball. London could become a hub for international basketball, captivating fans and generating immense potential for growth. With the inclusion of international NBA superstars and the increasing global interest in the sport, the concept of an NBA franchise in London holds great promise for the future.

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