Will We See a Las Vegas NBA Team in the Coming Years?

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Will there be a Las Vegas NBA team in Sin City given early signs? If so, what will the franchise be called?

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With the glitz, glamor, and it being the epicenter of sports betting and gambling, Las Vegas, Nevada, was never thought of as a professional sports town.

It always seemed like team ownership, leagues, and even fans were against the idea of putting their franchises and players into the city. This was often due to fear of “temptations” and how much of a distraction Sin City could be.

Las Vegas Golden Knights Arrive

The first team to break that trend was the Las Vegas Golden Knights. The Golden Knights are an expansion team in the NHL, formed in 2017. In coming to the city, Bill Foley paid a $500 million expansion fee. Then, the league voted on the application unanimously.

Las Vegas Golden Knights

While sports betting didn’t come until May 2018, almost a year after initially launching, this application was submitted in 2014.

Then Come the Raiders

From here, the Oakland Raiders decided to relocate to Las Vegas, filing paperwork in 2017 due to stadium concerns. In January 2020, the Raiders officially relocated and played the 2020-2021 season, their inaugural season, without fans due to the pandemic.

During their first season with fans, the Raiders had more than 550,000 paid in attendance across nine games according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

With two professional franchises being in Vegas, what does this mean in terms of future professional franchises coming to the city?

Of the “big four”, the MLB and NBA are the two leagues that have not yet entered the fray. But could that be changing for the NBA?

Madison Square Garden, perhaps the most iconic sports arena in the country, is going to have a sister site in Las Vegas. It has been named the MSG Sphere.

MSG Sphere Vegas

Billed as a “sphere-shaped music and entertainment” arena, this has left many wondering if this is setting up to be the future site of a Las Vegas NBA team.

Will An Existing NBA Team Relocate to Las Vegas?

This could happen, but it seems unlikely.

One team that is billed as a contender is the New Orleans Pelicans. They are signed to their current lease through 2024. However, the owner, Gayle Benson, is deeply tied to New Orleans, with Tom Benson, who passed in 2018, also owning the New Orleans Saints.

The only way this would come to fruition is if Benson decides to sell the team. The roots to New Orleans are too strong. Especially factoring in the Saints’ ownership with their stadiums so close to one another.

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NBA Expansion Team in Las Vegas?

Of the two scenarios, existing or expansion, this seems like the far more likely option. A Las Vegas NBA team is expected to form due to expansion, rather than relocation of an existing franchise.

In 2021, Adam Silver talked more about expanding the league from 30 teams and made comments relating to Seattle and Las Vegas.

“There’s no doubt Seattle would be a great market, Las Vegas would be a great market,” Silver said. “There’s state-of-the-art arenas in both those communities.”

With that said, Seattle mayor Bruce Harrell seemed quite confident that an expansion team could be coming to Seattle.

Seattle Mayor, Bruce Harrell’s, Comments

“So without revealing my ‘confidential sources,’ I’m very optimistic,” Harrell said. “But I will tell you almost on a weekly basis I’m getting updates on what’s happening in the league, where there’s some opportunities.”

Despite the talk and the possibility of it in the future, Silver doesn’t exactly appear to be beating down the door for additional teams.

“Even with all the very best players in the world coming to this league…you still don’t have the kind of competitive parity that we would like,” Silver said. “If you expand, you’re diluting talent even more.”

That is an insightful comment from Silver as the NBA, at least more so in years past, has been a sport of super teams, and there isn’t nearly as much parity as other leagues.

Bruce Harrell Seattle Mayor

So, is the NBA Coming To Las Vegas?

Sports betting is becoming so ingratiated into the culture of sports, including arenas and teams forming partnerships. Therefore, it seems like it’s only a matter of time.

The MSG Sphere is slated to be done with construction in 2023. But there doesn’t seem to be any way that a Las Vegas NBA team will land that soon.

The best hypothesis here is that there will be a Las Vegas expansion team. But maybe not for the next few years, or perhaps up to five. It seems like the NBA wants to see more parity in their sport before introducing another team.

It’s only a matter of time before Las Vegas dawns a professional NBA franchise.

Las Vegas NBA Team Name Ideas:

Here are a bunch of Las Vegas NBA team name ideas that have been floated on forums and media outlets:

  • Outlaws
  • Rattlers
  • Slam
  • Wranglers
  • Gladiators
  • Dustdevils
  • Bandits
  • Spades
  • Jokers
  • Vultures
  • Sinners
  • Vipers
  • Lions

So, which one do you think suits best?

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