NBA commissioner Adam Silver has hinted over recent weeks that league expansion could be imminent this decade, with a former professional basketball city — Seattle — a frontrunner to gain a team.
Not surprisingly, Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan welcomed the news, and told Seattle television station KING 5 on Thursday that she is "pretty optimistic" a team will return to the city, which lost the SuperSonics after the 2008 season when the organization moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder.
Durkan and Silver spoke on the phone before the holidays, the mayor said.
"It is very good news for the city of Seattle that they are thinking of an expansion team," Durkan told KING 5. "And I was honest with him. He knows Seattle wants to be at the front of the line. We're where the team should be. But we will be respecting them as they move forward to their ownership because the (owners), you know, has to approve it."
Fans of the defunct Seattle SuperSonics team look on during testimony before the Seattle City Council in 2016. (Photo: Elaine Thompson, AP)
Due to the economic losses caused by the pandemic, the NBA has considered expansion as a long-term fix to grow revenue. The latest expansion team in the league are the Charlotte Hornets, which entered in 2004 as the Bobcats.
The NHL's expansion into Seattle will be official next season when the Kraken begin play. The Kraken will play in Climate Pledge Arena, a $1 billion edifice that will open by fall and will also house the WNBA's Seattle Storm. Durkan said the arena is "NBA-ready." (Kraken majority owner David Bonderman is a minority owner of the Boston Celtics.)
"If there's basketball karma, we'll get the Sonics," Durkan said. "If there's economics involved, we'll get the Sonics. If there's just smart, what's the best city in America, we'll get the Sonics. So, I'm pretty optimistic."
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
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