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LeBron James desires to own NBA expansion team in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS — LeBron James has made no secret of his desire to hitch Michael Jordan within the NBA’s ownership ranks, and now he has a goal market in mind for his future team.

The Los Angeles Lakers star said Wednesday he would love to own a franchise in Las Vegas if the NBA proceeds with long-rumored plans so as to add an expansion team within the entertainment and gambling destination. James made his desire known by addressing NBA Commissioner Adam Silver during a news conference following the Lakers’ 119-115 loss to the Phoenix Suns in a preseason game at T-Mobile Arena.

“I’d like to bring a team here in some unspecified time in the future,” James said. “That will be amazing. I do know Adam is in Abu Dhabi at once, I feel . . . with the [Milwaukee] Bucks and Atlanta [Hawks for a preseason exhibition]. He probably sees each interview and transcript that comes through from NBA players, so I would like the team here, Adam. Thanks.”

The four-time MVP added that the fan support in Las Vegas had been “wonderful.”

Las Vegas, which added the NHL’s Golden Knights in 2017 and the NFL’s Raiders in 2020, has been mentioned alongside Seattle, which landed the NHL’s Kraken in 2021, as possible NBA expansion destinations. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman (I) and former Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan (D) each publicly lobbied for NBA teams in 2021, and the cities have hosted preseason NBA games this week.

While denying a rumor about possible expansion in 2024, Silver said in June the NBA “invariably would expand,” calling Las Vegas, which is home to the NBA’s Summer League, “an awesome sports market,” and noting the WNBA’s Seattle Storm was “doing spectacular.”

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James, 37, has a billion-dollar net price, based on Forbes, after earning nearly $400 million in NBA salary entering this season and inking a lifetime contract with Nike, amongst other endorsement deals. He recently signed a two-year, $97 million extension with the Lakers that runs through the 2024-25 season and has said that he desires to proceed playing within the NBA until he can team up together with his 18-year-old son, Bronny, who can be draft-eligible in 2024.

Through his investment within the Fenway Sports Group in 2021, James holds minority ownership stakes in MLB’s Boston Red Sox and Liverpool, the English soccer club.

The NBA, which has had 30 teams because it added Charlotte in 2004, probably will wait to expand until after it reaches a recent collective bargaining agreement with the National Basketball Players Association and a recent media rights deals with its television and digital partners. The present CBA runs through the 2023-24 season, while the league’s media rights deals will expire after the 2024-25 season. The NBA and NBPA have been engaged in CBA extension talks in recent months.

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