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Paolo Banchero says NBA expansion in Seattle “should be mandatory”

2022 NBA Summer League - Orlando Magic v Oklahoma City Thunder

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 11: Paolo Banchero #5 of the Orlando Magic walks to the bench after a timeout in the team’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2022 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 11, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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The NBA is not talking expansion anytime soon. At least not publicly. Reports suggest the NBA owners want to wait a couple of years and get the CBA negotiations and the new television/streaming deal locked in place (to drive up franchise values) before talking about adding anyone to their club (more like 2024 at the earliest, probably 2025).

But when they do, Paolo Banchero says the NBA has to return to Seattle.

Banchero — Seattle born and raised before going on to be the No. 1 pick of the Magic — went on the Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson podcast “All The Smoke” and talked about the need to get a team back in his hometown (hat tip Uproxx)

“I think it needs to happen, I think it should be mandatory. Not just because I’m biased, but because it’d be a great look on the NBA. It’s a great city, the fans there are crazy. If you get a team in Seattle, they’ll automatically be a top … not the top, but a top fanbase. Those games would be sold out right away.”

Seattle, along with Las Vegas, is considered a clear frontrunner if/when NBA expansion happens.

Banchero is right, Seattle was a great fan base. It also is a larger television market than 18 existing NBA markets (including OKC), and there is the money there to buy the suites and expensive private seats that drive arena revenue today. They don’t have a team now because of a lack of commitment by team ownership and the city’s rightful unwillingness to build/help finance an arena for the club’s billionaire owners.

Seattle natives, such as Banchero, just need to be patient.

“Maybe there are people talking who are not at the league office about us potentially expanding after the 2024 season. We are not discussing that at this time,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said during the NBA Finals. “As I said before, at some point, this league invariably will expand, but it’s not at this moment that we are discussing it.”

That moment is coming in a few years, however.