After creating a storm of speculation about the NBA adding teams through expansion, Adam Silver has backtracked. In an interview with the Associated Press, Silver described expansion as on the back burner.
“It was not under active consideration before the pandemic,” Silver said. “Certainly, during the pandemic as I’ve mentioned, we’ve dusted off some of the plans that we previously looked at for potential expansion. But it remains on the back burner and it would not be appropriate to expand right now, given where our focus is on trying to work through this season. All our attention is on getting the business back to being fully operable as quickly as possible.”
A few takeaways from that quote.
First, the chances of expansion seem to have increased due to the pandemic. Meaning the only reason NBA owners would consider adding two more teams would be to receive the expansion fee to help offset lost revenue from the pandemic.
This isn’t exactly breaking news, but without explicitly saying the pandemic could cause expansion, Silver said the the pandemic could cause expansion.
The second takeaway is the phrase back burner, generally used to express how low something is on the priority list. But it means it is on the priority list. While Silver tried to slow the speculation around expansion, is still appears the NBA is going to take it into consideration.
And the final takeaway is the timeline. Silvers says they are focused on getting through this season and being fully operable. The NBA is trying to get through this season – another game was postponed on Sunday as the Raptors have COVID issues.
An optimistic look at the timeline would suggest after this season expansion could be moved to the front burner. Assuming the NBA has the opportunity to play next season with fans in arenas and without the threat of constant postponement, expansion might become the league’s top priority.