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Seattle would immediately be a “top 10 NBA city,” says Jeff Van Gundy

The ESPN analyst also says the opportunity would be instantly appealing to coaches the moment a team returns to the Emerald City

NBA: Preseason-Sacramento Kings at Golden State Warriors Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

In Jeff Van Gundy’s eyes, Seattle would be a top 10 NBA city “the moment they got brought another franchise.”

Speaking with 710 ESPN Radio’s Brock Huard and Mike Salk on Tuesday, the ESPN analyst said the NBA would be “better served” by having a team back in the Emerald City.

“There’s so many cities that don’t support (their NBA teams). Just look at the bottom 10 of attendance figures in the NBA, and you can figure out really quickly which would be better served having a franchise in Seattle.”

“[…] If you just look at so many of the teams who perpetually don’t draw – I just don’t understand for the life of me why the NBA, when it has a vibrant, proven NBA city like Seattle, wouldn’t have more urgency to get a team back there. It just seems like they’ve been slow-walked this whole time and I just don’t think it’s right.”

Van Gundy, a former coach in the NBA, says the new Sonics gig would be immediately attractive to coaches, Brent Stecker of 710 ESPN summarizes.

“Anybody who could get a job in Seattle would limit their other opportunities just to have that chance.”

“To have that ability to go back for a preseason game and have it feel like a playoff game in so many other cities makes you remember what you’re missing. Believe me, whenever you get an NBA team, you’ll have like an avalanche of people trying to be their next coach.”

Brock and Salk had Van Gundy on to talk about the impact of last Friday’s preseason game in Seattle between the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings. He said the “overwhelming response” was something you would expect from Seattle basketball fans.

Huard asked what the NBA owners’ appetite for expansion or relocation is, and Van Gundy boiled it down to money. Whether the owners decide there is benefit to splitting the pie 32 ways or if they can get the most value for all 30 teams by moving a team from an underperforming market to Seattle, money will be their key motivator.

“I don’t know what the next team is going to be there, but I tell you it was always a top-flight NBA city. And I just don’t think the NBA is maximizing, ultimately, what it can without having Seattle having an NBA team. I don’t care if it’s expansion or relocation, as painful as that may be to some, but it’s too good of a NBA city to leave dormant.”