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Report: LeBron James 'Apparently' in 'Pole Position' to Own NBA Vegas Expansion Team

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVAugust 11, 2022

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is reportedly considered the front-runner to own an NBA expansion franchise in Las Vegas.

During a discussion on his On The Ball with Ric Bucher podcast (h/t Hoops Hype), FS1 NBA insider Ric Bucher said LeBron is in the "pole position" to serve as an NBA owner in Las Vegas.

Bucher added that he has been told Las Vegas and Seattle expansion teams are in the works and could be announced as soon as the NBA's next television deals. The NBA's current TV contracts with ESPN and Turner Sports run through the 2024-25 season.

If the NBA and James have mutual interest in him owning an expansion franchise in Vegas, the timeline of the TV deals could be a clue to when he plans to retire.

LeBron is currently 37 years old, meaning he will be 40 by the end of the 2024-25 campaign.

At that point, James could retire and conclude an illustrious, 22-year NBA career in which he established himself as one of the all-time greats, although that isn't necessarily a guarantee.

LeBron could both own and play for a Las Vegas franchise, but with the turnaround of at least two years between a franchise getting announced and playing for the first time, that may not be viable.

James has been vocal about his desire to play alongside his son, Bronny, in the NBA at some point, though, which is something that could compel him to extend his career.

Bronny is part of the 2023 recruiting class, meaning he could conceivably play in the NBA as early as the 2024-25 season. If the Lakers manage to land him and pair him with his father, it would perhaps give LeBron even more incentive to retire after the 2024-25 season, as he would have accomplished his goal.

The major North American sports leagues long vowed to stay away from Vegas, but with sports betting becoming more popular and legalized across much of the United States, the taboo is essentially gone.

The NHL expanded into Las Vegas with the Vegas Golden Knights, and the NFL allowed the Raiders to move from Oakland to Las Vegas.

It seems as though the NBA is next in line to explore that market, which makes sense given that the league hosted All-Star weekend in Vegas in 2007, well before the idea of an expansion team heated up.

James would join fellow NBA legend Michael Jordan as the only Black principal owners in the NBA, plus he would give the Las Vegas franchise the type of star power and cachet it needs to get off the ground.

LeBron has earned his way to billionaire status, and he has been open about his desire to own an NBA franchise. In fact, James said in June that he specifically wants to own a team in Vegas.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver shot down talk of imminent expansion as recently as June, but he added that the league will "invariably expand" at some point.

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