Capitanes Ciudad de Mexico will be the first G League team outside the USA and Canada. It has been speculated and rumored for years. Now the NBA finally made it official last month during its annual NBA Mexico City Games. The NBA will finally have a team in Mexico, the largest market in Latin America… an NBA G League team that is.
On December 12 in Mexico City prior to the Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons game, in an announcement that was somewhat lost in the holiday season shuffle, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called it a “historic milestone for the NBA.”
Not exactly what Mexican basketball fans had hoped for, but it is a start.
Is this the NBA’s way of testing the markets of Mexico City (20 million population) and that of the entire country (120-130 million)… and all Latin America for that matter?
Yes, it is and a smart move at that!
Capitanes Ciudad de Mexico
Serving as the NBA guinea pigs will be the Capitanes Ciudad de Mexico (Captains of Mexico City). This team was founded in 2016 and is a current member of Mexico’s national professional league (LNBP). The team has a five-year agreement to participate in the NBA’s developmental league (formerly known as the D League). The Capitanes will start play in the 2020-2021 season which tips off in November.
Five years will give the NBA plenty of market research data on important topics. For example the long-term interest amongst Mexican fans and their willingness to support a team, TV, sponsorship and advertising potential, team travel to and from Mexico City, player housing and security concerns, traffic issues, the effects of Mexico City’s altitude (2,000 feet higher than Denver) and poor air quality on player health and production, etc.
How would a real NBA expansion work?
With 30 existing teams, the last NBA expansion took place in 2004 with the Charlotte Bobcats, now Hornets. In order to balance the conferences and the schedule, there would have to be a second expansion team. The conferences must also remain balanced. Many believe that Seattle is the next city in line to receive a team (again).
Seattle would obviously be in the Western Conference. It makes sense to also place the Capitanes Ciudad de Mexico in the west. Because that team is on the same longitude as Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Oklahoma City. They are definitively not an eastern team.
How could that work? One current Western Conference team then would have to be moved to the Eastern Conference. But who? Our suggestion would be the Memphis Grizzlies, being that they are the most eastern Western Conference team, geographically speaking.
This would also be a good time for the NBA to get rid of the no longer necessary divisions within the two conferences.
Does an NBA experiment make sense?
Of course it makes sense, why not? By doing it in the G League with an already existing team owned by Mexicans, there is relatively little risk involved. Mexico, and all Latin America, is a HUGE, and still a rather virgin, market for the league. Moreover, it makes sense geographically. After all, Mexico City is in the US Central Time Zone and the travel distance to Mexico City is like that of other NBA cities for many teams.
If all goes well, we could see an NBA franchise in Mexico City within five years.
Last but not least; Mexican Carlos Slim, has deep pockets and is one of the world’s wealthiest men. He should be the majority owner of Capitanes Ciudad de Mexico. Also, 12-year NBA veteran Eduardo Najera would be a great choice as the team’s first General Manager!