NBA officials have reportedly "floated" the idea of a $2.5 billion price tag each for two expansion franchises.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported the NBA is considering expansion as one avenue to help teams offset financial losses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Team governors do not split revenue from expansion franchises with players.
A $2.5 billion expansion fee for each team would net the 30 current franchises about $167 million apiece.
Cities like Seattle and Las Vegas have been mentioned as potential expansion locations.
Seattle has a rich basketball history with the SuperSonics, who won the 1979 NBA championship and three conference titles before relocating to Oklahoma City in 2008. Fans have been clamoring for an NBA return to Seattle since the franchise left the city.
Las Vegas is an interesting option, albeit one that may not have as much untapped potential as previous years. Adding a third major sports team to the NHL's Golden Knights and NFL's Raiders may stretch Vegas beyond its capabilities to support franchises. As well, an increasing number of states allow sports gambling, meaning the city may lose some of its attraction as a tourist destination.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already wreaked havoc on Las Vegas' tourism industry.
The NBA has not expanded since 2004, returning to Charlotte with the Bobcats (now Hornets). NBA Commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged the possibility of expansion last month:
"I think I've always said that it's sort of the manifest destiny of the league that you expand at some point. I'd say it's caused us to maybe dust off some of the analyses on the economic and competitive impacts of expansion. We've been putting a little bit more time into it than we were pre-pandemic. But certainly not to the point that expansion is on the front burner."
Expansion would create a ripple effect across the league that includes an expansion draft and realignment of conferences, among other logistical issues.