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Lakers’ LeBron James wants to own NBA expansion team in Las Vegas

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James said Wednesday that he would one day like to own an NBA team in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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

The Los Angeles Lakers star said Wednesday he would like to own a franchise in Las Vegas if the NBA proceeds with long-rumored plans to add an expansion team in 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 would love to bring a team here at some point,” James said. “That would be amazing. I know Adam is in Abu Dhabi right now, I believe . . . with the [Milwaukee] Bucks and Atlanta [Hawks for a preseason exhibition]. He probably sees every single interview and transcript that comes through from NBA players, so I want the team here, Adam. Thank you.”

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) both 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, “a great sports market,” and noting the WNBA’s Seattle Storm was “doing spectacular.”

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James, 37, has a billion-dollar net worth, according to Forbes, after earning nearly $400 million in NBA salary entering this season and inking a lifetime contract with Nike, among 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 wants to continue playing in the NBA until he can team up with his 18-year-old son, Bronny, who will be draft-eligible in 2024.

Through his investment in 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 since it added Charlotte in 2004, probably will wait to expand until after it reaches a new collective bargaining agreement with the National Basketball Players Association and a new media rights deals with its television and digital partners. The current 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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