The preseason game played by the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings showed the enthusiasm in Seattle. Kevin Durant returned to the city where he played his rookie season. He’s one of the last two active NBA players to suit up for the SuperSonics — the other is Jeff Green.
The NBA is standing pat with 30 teams — 15 in each conference — for the time being. They don’t have plans to expand, but that doesn’t mean that expansion isn’t a possibility in the future. The last time the league expanded was in 2004 with the Charlotte Bobcats. It would seem like the league is overdue for another expansion in the near future. The popularity of the league is rising and it’s only a matter of time before the NBA jumps to 32 teams — 16 in each conference.
Once Adam Silver and co. decide to expand, Seattle must be at the top of the shortlist for potential expansion cities. There are a few intriguing options, but none have a story quite like Seattle. The city lost its NBA franchise to Oklahoma City in 2008. The iconic SuperSonics were unsustainable in Seattle, but now the city would love to have their team back.
The city retained the rights to the name so if the league does decide to return to Seattle, they already have an iconic name. There’s no need to come up with a downright silly name like the Bobcats. The league cherishes its history and bringing a team back to Seattle would be the perfect way to honor its history and take the city of Seattle out of its misery.
There are a few excellent possibilities for expansion cities — including a few international destinations — but Seattle still tops the list. Montreal is expressing interest in an expansion team. They would be an intriguing option and could help increase the international appeal of the NBA to a degree. Mexico City is another, but that seems less likely. In the same vein as Seattle, a return to Vancouver is another possibility.
Louisville is another potential landing site for an NBA team. Of course, the city itself is located in a small market, but Kentuckians are fanatical about their basketball and the team would be the only major professional sports team in town. Las Vegas is another city with a case to be made. The city showed it can handle a professional franchise when the NHL expanded with the Golden Knights. Not to mention, the Raiders are moving to Vegas soon.
But while all of these cities are viable destinations for NBA expansion, none compare to the prospect of bringing a team back to Seattle. The city is home to a rich basketball history and the league would have a readymade brand to promote. It’s not all about money, but you can bet that SuperSonics gear would start flying off the shelves.
There is no set timetable for NBA expansion, but you can bet Seattle will be at the top of the pecking order when the league decides to expand once again.