Celtics Executive: Expansion Not Likely Within Five Years

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Assistant GM for Boston Celtics says expansion not likely within five years, but more likely in five to ten years. Says relocation is more likely in the five year window.

According to Mike Zarren, the assistant general manager of the Boston Celtics, Seattle is in for a longer wait than any of us had hoped for in the pursuit of an NBA franchise.

Participating in a forum at the Sports Lawyer Association conference, Zarren was asked by panelist and sports law expert Mike McCann about the possibility of expansion to Seattle. An article at lawinsports.com, which you can read here, describes the exchange:

McCann asked about NBA expansion, and specifically, whether the NBA will expand to Seattle. Zarren believes that Europe will be the next frontier. Domestically, he thinks that Seattle will remain the top candidate for expansion, but noted a specific team's destination is usually up to the team's owners, rather than to the league as a whole. Zarren cautioned, however, that he does not envision NBA expansion within the next five years. He thought the possibility of NBA expansion was somewhat higher within the next 10 years, but had no specific information on any expansion. Zarren reasoned that in the short term, it would be more likely for a team to relocate to Seattle than it would be for the NBA to add a team there.

That doesn't feel good to read, but we promised to cover the good and the bad in the quest to get our team back.

Let me address a couple things.

"A specific team's destination is usually up to the team's owners?" Don't make me laugh. The Kings saga taught us that a team's destination is completely up to the league. The fact that he even said that makes me shake my head.

When he says that relocation is more likely in the next five years, what team might that be? The Bucks situation will take years to play out to a point where relocation might not even be an option. I still think expansion is the most likely and best option.

Also consider that this is one guy talking and that others, such as Mark Cuban, have seemed more open to expansion in recent statements.  Owners tend to know more than assistant general managers in my experience.

So let's converse. Let the Eeyore's say the sky is falling and let the sunshine and rainbowers tsk tsk their pessimism. Let the rest of you sort this out in your own way. Share your thoughts with us!

UPDATE: Mike Zarren was kind enough to drop by the site and offer up a little clarity on his comments.  Here's what he had to say;

No news here.

Hey guys – a reporter friend fwded me a link to your story.

The article you linked to is just a summary of what was said in a pretty informal pre-game conversation almost two months ago, in front of a group of lawyers who bought tickets to the night’s game. (This was not the main SLA conference, which I think is in May).

I preceded my response to this question (which was a direct question asking me to guess regarding whether there’d be expansion & where) with something like “I haven’t heard anything about expansion at all and I’m not involved in these things, but if I had to guess, I’d say…”

So please don’t take any of this as any kind of official proclamation about anything. If I had to guess, I’d say there won’t be expansion very soon. I was asked to guess, so that’s what I said. I haven’t heard anything about any expansion plans. But I’m not an owner and haven’t recently discussed expansion with our owners or other owners, and of course the climate on this stuff can change anytime.

I was then asked if the league wants a team in Seattle, and I said again that I have no idea or specific info, but that I’d have to imagine after what happened that Seattle would probably be the top candidate if there were domestic expansion. I then made clear that while the league office and owners were obviously very closely involved in the one Seattle/Sacramento decision, in general, team moves have been approved when ownership wants to move. No team I know of has been moved when its owner didn’t want it to, so the most important determinant historically of when and where a team moves has been the specific owner of that team, rather than the desires of the league office or board of governors as a whole (though they obviously do get a say in the end). That got paraphrased in the article & then lumped together with my answer to a separate question about Europe, where I said I supposed I could someday see an NBA division, but not very soon, due to logistics and arena issues.

In any case, all of what I said was my own personal speculation in response to direct questions, and based on all the same public info that you guys already have. I know that none of this is any consolation to you guys. But I figured I’d set the record straight before this became some kind of significant news story – there’s no news here at all.

This is all I can say. I’m not going to be able to respond to any comments here about this, but I love Seattle (especially beecher’s cheese curds & tomato soup) & REALLY enjoyed the atmosphere at the couple Cs/Sonics games I got to watch at Key before the team moved.

-Mike Z.

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