Skip to main content

NBA says 'there is interest' in an expansion team in Montreal

Adam Silver Adam Silver - The Canadian Press

NBA commissioner Adam Silver says he is aware "there is interest" in a possible expansion team in Montreal.

Silver broached the subject in a televised interview during Monday night's game between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks.

In particular, he said that he was not ruling out the possibility of setting up a new franchise in Canada, in Montreal or Vancouver, or even in Mexico City, Mexico.

Asked about a possible expansion, the NBA commissioner said the league would consider the option after the TV rights are renewed - the current deal will expire after the 2024-25 season.

"It's become a very good basketball market," he said on air, referring to Canada. "I'd say the Toronto Raptors have done a very good job... of becoming Team Canada. I know there's interest in Montreal. And I know there's always been interest in Vancouver."

In total, 27 Canadian players currently play in the NBA -- a trend that has not gone unnoticed by Silver. He also pointed to the recent success of the Canadian men's basketball team, which beat the United States to win the bronze medal at the FIBA World Cup last summer.

No country other than the United States supplies as many players to the NBA as Canada.

Among the country's biggest NBA stars are Quebecers(opens in a new tab) Luguentz "Lu" Dort (Oklahoma City Thunder), Bennedict Mathurin (Indiana Pacers) and Chris Boucher (Toronto Raptors), as well as Ontarians Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Thunder), Andrew Wiggins (Golden State Warriors) and Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets).

"When we first went there (in Canada), it was a hockey market," Silver told NBC Sports Boston. "Kids like basketball now. They obviously still like hockey, but there will be other opportunities eventually."

A group of business professionals who have been trying to set up an NBA team in Montreal for more than six years, including Quebec politician Michael Fortier, said last March that there was "nothing to report" on the subject. Fortier added during the same public appearance that an NBA expansion team would cost between US$2 and US$3 billion.

The Thunder played the Detroit Pistons in an NBA pre-season game on Oct. 12(opens in a new tab) at the Bell Centre.

The Grizzlies played in Vancouver from 1995 to 2001, before moving to Memphis. Since then, the Raptors have been the only Canadian team in the NBA.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 14, 2023. 

This is a corrected version. An earlier version of this story stated that the commissioner had said he was in discussion with a Montreal group, but instead said he was aware of Montreal's interest in obtaining an NBA club.