LeBron James wasn't subtle when he spoke about the prospect of owning an NBA team in Las Vegas.
The Los Angeles Lakers guard lauded the Vegas fanbase before speaking directly to NBA commissioner Adam Silver about his desire to be the person to bring a team to Nevada.
"It’s the best fanbase in the world. I would love to bring a team here at some point. That would be amazing," James said after the Lakers' exhibition game loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. "I know Adam is in Abu Dhabi right now, I believe. But he probably sees every single interview and transcript that comes through from NBA players.
"So, I want the team here, Adam. Thank you."
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) October 6, 2022
James, who will be 38 in December, has perhaps been the most vocal player advocate for an NBA team in Las Vegas. In June, he specifically said on an episode of "The Shop" that he wanted to own "the team in Vegas." He's mentioned his desire to become an owner as far back as 2016, too.
James has an ownership stake in other professional teams. He recently joined Draymond Green, Kevin Love and others in buying a professional pickleball team. When James invested in Fenway Sports Group in 2021, he also became a minority owner in the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool Football Club, RFK Racing and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
How could James own a team?
James would have to wait until at least after his playing days are over before he can think about owning a team himself. The league's current collective bargaining agreement doesn't allow active players to own a stake in a franchise. As Silver alluded to, though, the CBA expires in 2024, which means anything is on the table from a player-ownership side.
James has also said recently he wants to stay in the NBA long enough to play with his oldest son, Bronny, and perhaps even his younger son, Bryce, too. That could elongate the time it takes for him to own a franchise himself.
Either way, it sounds like the NBA's plans for expansion might take some time.
When could NBA expansion happen?
It's also not a guarantee the NBA will expand into Las Vegas, or at all. Silver is keeping the NBA's plans very close to his chest. A year ago, Silver said that Las Vegas was "on a list" for when the NBA does add another team but that the league "isn't right now" thinking about expansion.
"But at some point," Silver added, "no doubt Vegas will be on the list.”
This past April, Silver told the Dan Patrick Show that "there's no clear sort of benchmark to get here [to expansion]." Silver noted the economics of expansion – namely splitting revenue among more teams – and the lack of competitive parity he's seen in the NBA despite its dominance in the sport of basketball. He also added that the league will have to negotiate a new CBA deal soon as well as look at their media rights contracts again.
But, expansion is certainly on the table down the road.
"Enterprises naturally grow over time. There's no doubt Seattle would be a great market. Las Vegas would be a great market. There's state-of-the-art arenas in both those communities," Silver said. "We'll look at it. Interestingly, it's not on the front burner for our league right now."