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Silver: NBA not in expansion mode, but keeping eye on Vegas

Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports

With recent news that the NHL will likely expand into Las Vegas sometime after the 2016-17 season, NBA commissioner Adam Silver was asked Thursday about the city's viability as a potential NBA market.

Silver stressed that the league isn't thinking seriously about expansion right now, but spoke optimistically about the untapped potential in Vegas, where the NBA holds an annual summer league.

"I am keeping a close eye on it," Silver said on the Dan Patrick Show. "It's a market that we've been playing our summer league in for at least the last 10 years, so we've been there every July. I've been to the new arena that AEG just built there. I think it's a great market. We're not in expansion mode, so it's not something that we're even thinking about right now. But based on what I've read the NHL is on their way, and even our old owners the Maloofs seem to be involved - the old owners of the Sacramento Kings. I know the people of Vegas love their sports."

Silver laid out the pros and cons of a hypothetical expansion into Vegas (which again, is a long-term proposition at best), weighing concerns about the television market and local fan base against the boon of international tourism.

"My sense is Las Vegas may not be as conducive to the traditional model for a team, where you build it on season-ticket holders as opposed to having to resell 20,000 seats every night," he said. "But on the other hand, they have this huge base of tourists, and especially, I know for our league, one of the things we've looked at for Vegas is the number of international tourists that come to that town. And as we get more popular in Asia, in Europe, and in other parts of the world, a lot of people from those markets are constantly traveling into Vegas, so that would be one of the attractions as well."

Since succeeding David Stern as commissioner in 2014, Silver has shown an ambitious, big-picture approach to the NBA's growth. He's also talked in the past about his desire to see the league expand into Europe, calling it "manifest destiny."

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