If the NBA is going to add new teams via expansion, it will come down to the owners. Do they want to sell off a piece of the league for the expansion fee?
Clippers owner Steve Ballmer said he has not been involved in any serious talks about expansion.
“I know nothing. I see nothing,” Ballmer said on the Clubhouse app. “The commissioner talked about the fact that it’s an open consideration at some point to do expansion. If an expansion were to happen Seattle would be up at the top of the list. I certainly haven’t participated in any in-depth discussions at this point. I can’t tell you the timing, but I read the commissioner’s remarks at the same time the rest of you did.”
Ballmer not participating in any in-depth conversations about expansions doesn’t mean expansion won’t happen.
Ballmer could be lying (though he spent a big portion of his Clubhouse Q&A praising the NBA for transparency). He could have had preliminary discussions about expansion that will become more in-depth the next time NBA owners meet. He did mention Seattle being at the top of the list, which would indicate some level of expansion conversations.
Ultimately, if the NBA is going to expand, the owners will make the decision. The pandemic could spur expansion, as teams bring in less than revenue than expected with limited or no fans attending games. A potential payout of $300 million per team could make the owners push for two expansion teams.
Even though Ballmer says he has not had in-depth discussions, it seems likely the owners will have a serious conversation about it at some point in 2021.