NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke Thursday about the possibility of international NBA franchises, the need for travel technology to advance for that to be a consideration and even the 82-game regular season.
"We can play games in China and Europe, or occasional preseason games as a one-off, but under existing airline technology, the planes aren't fast enough to at least play in the current frame work of our regular season," Silver told Sam Amick of USA Today. "(But) it may be something we'll be looking at over the coming years, is what a regular season schedule [would] look like a decade from now."
"There's nothing magical about 82 games," Silver continued. "It's been in place for 50 years, but for the long-term planning of the league, as we learn more about the human body and the wear and tear of travel and the competitive landscape ... invariably we'll look at the regular season. And in looking at the regular season, it may create more opportunities for international franchises."
As the NBA continues to increase in global popularity, it wouldn't be surprising to see the league seek out new countries and continents to expand its brand and reach. As for adding a new team, however, Stern noted that Mexico City is on the league's radar as a future expansion site.
"... We do see enormous opportunity in Mexico City and think it could become the franchise for Latin America," Silver said. "Mexico City is a city with over 20 million people, a country of 130 million people, and a huge Mexican American population. We’re only looking at it from a more general standpoint—and we're playing games (there) again in Dec. It's something we'll continue to keep eye on."
He did note that the NBA isn't currently interested in expansion, however. As for NBA games being played in Mexico City, the Brooklyn Nets will face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 7 and the Miami Heat on Dec. 9 at Arena Ciudad de Mexico in the country's capital.
The Minnesota Timberwolves also played the Golden State Warriors in Shenzhen, China, on Thursday, with additional global games coming Oct. 8 in Pudong, China (Warriors vs. Timberwolves), and Jan. 11 in London (Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics).