With the NBA Finals starting on Thursday night that also meant it was time for commissioner Adam Silver’s annual Finals press conference in which he answers questions about the state of the NBA and other topics concerning the league ahead of the draft, free agency, and the rest of the offseason.
Silver addressed the media in Oakland and discussed everything from LeBron James’ powerful statement on racism in America, to the “one and done” rule, to the possibility of the NBA expanding beyond 30 teams in the future. On that latter note, Silver quickly explained why the league would not be considering expansion in the near future, noting that the first question of his press conference was about the lack of competitive balance in the league currently among other reasons.
“Expansion is not something we’re looking at right now,” Silver said. “It’s less a function of labor peace. It more goes to the strength of a 30 team league. You know, the initial question today was, ‘What do you feel about competitive balance when two teams blew through the playoffs?’ I think what for, from my standpoint of the league, you want 30 teams that are in a position where they can ultimately compete for championships and be economically viable. From an economic standpoint, we’re doing better than we were historically, but we’re still not to a point where we have 30 teams that are profitable.
“In terms of the pool of talent, it’s quite remarkable to me that people can look at this league and say there are only two teams that can compete when every great player in the world, whether from China or from Pittsburgh ends up in the league,” Silver continued. “I also have to look at the potential of dilution of existing talent we have before we expand. I have no doubt that, at some point, we’ll turn back to it.”
Silver’s stance makes sense. The league has plenty of due diligence to do on the matter of expansion before it can seriously look at adding teams, and the talent distribution around the league and ensuring that the on court product is up to standards is a significant part of that. There’s also the matter of profitability, as he noted, which was surprising to some, considering the skyrocketing prices of NBA franchises recently thanks to the new TV deal. However, the new TV deal is already done and adding two more teams would just trim off everyone’s piece of that money pie. For markets like Seattle and Las Vegas hoping to get franchises, it doesn’t seem as though expansion is coming their way in the near future.
The other topic where Silver hinted at some potential change coming was with regards to the “one and done” rule, which he noted isn’t working for anyone.
Silver said he wasn’t sure what the solution was, noting that the union and league wanted the age limit to move in different directions, but said over the course of the next year it would be something they would look to adjust.