Europe presents an untouched market for the NBA to expand to. The ever-shifting nature of the league makes an expansion across the Atlantic not that far-fetched at all. Basketball is a sport that is rapidly increasing its global brand, and in order to take that to the next level, it will need to expand to Europe. More and more European fans are tuning into NBA games because of the recent influx of strong European talent into the league. This includes Rudy Gobert of France, fan-favorite Kristaps Porzingis of Latvia, and emerging superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece. There has always been strong European talent in the NBA, but it has been taken to a whole different level now. This article will break down whether or not it is feasible to actually expand to Europe, and if it is, how will that actually happen. Keep in mind that this is all hypothetical and a prediction of what would happen if the NBA were to expand to Europe
The first thing that needs to be determined is which countries will get an NBA team. Taking into account market size, fan interest, and players currently in the NBA, below are the eight teams that would be added on to the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Eastern Conference: Italy, Spain, Germany, Greece
Western Conference: England, France, Latvia, and Lithuania, Serbia
After determining the countries that would have teams, there needs to be a way to get players onto these teams. The simplest way of doing this would be to have an expansion draft. For this expansion draft, each NBA team would be allowed to keep five of their players on their roster (players entering free agency would be ineligible for this expansion draft). Then, once each expansion team picks five players in the expansion draft, the draft would continue, but NBA teams would be picking as well. Current European players in the NBA would probably want to play close to their hometown city, so an expansion to Europe could cause them to demand a trade.
However, there is a major problem that would arise once this expansion draft is over. Players being picked by the expansion teams may not want to have to move overseas. If a player has a family, they would probably be extremely hesitant. In order to help solve this problem, a cost of living adjustment could be added to a players salary which would make the move more enticing.
Let’s say the aforementioned problem is solved: now what? Creating the schedule would probably be next on the agenda. In order for it to be feasible, European expansion teams would travel to America for a span of three weeks at a time. Then, NBA teams would travel over to Europe for about three weeks at a time and play their games against the expansion teams. There would also be two days once the plane lands to adjust for jet lag before their next game.
As far as tip-off time is concerned, here is what would happen. Whenever NBA teams travel overseas, the games would be played in European prime time, whereas when the expansion teams travel to America, the games will be played at the times they are currently played at.
All of this is a long way away from actually happening, but it would make a lot of fiscal sense for the NBA to do this. First of all, the global brand of the NBA would be increased exponentially. Most games would be sold out, which would lead to good ticket sales. There is also a good amount of revenue to be found in selling jerseys and other paraphernalia to these new fans.
The new TV deal that the NBA signed with TBS makes now the perfect time to start a large project like this. Once all the minor problems with expanding overseas are cleaned up, the NBA will be looking at a golden opportunity to broaden the game. An NBA team will not be based in Europe for another couple of years, but it is definitely the next step for the NBA.
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