Sue Bird is adding her voice to the WNBA expansion conversation, telling Kelly O’Hara on the latest episode of The Players’ Pod that she supports adding an additional two teams to the league.
The calls for expansion have grown louder in the past year as more and more teams have to cut draft picks and top talent to remain under the salary cap. While every team can carry a maximum of 12 players, many have had to limit their roster size to 10 or 11 to meet the financial demands of the CBA.
“I personally think it’s a little bit more realistic to expand teams, like to add two teams. So we have 12, now get to 14, because that brings in two more owners, their own bank with their own salary cap versus asking the current 12 to put more money in. Because what is not going to happen is you’re not going to add roster spots and the salary cap not go up,” Bird says.
“If they tried to do that, I would be like, that’s insane. We are already having a problem squeezing 11 or 12 (players) in. We’d have better luck getting two ownership groups in.”
The opposition to WNBA expansion is concerned about diluting the league’s competitiveness, but Bird is less concerned with that possibility.
“Right now, the competition in the WNBA is high, high level because it’s 12 teams and 12 roster spots, so every team has crazy talent. It’s not that it would be a bad thing, it’s just that it’s so good now, you don’t want to ruin that,” Bird tells O’Hara.
“When you watch the Finals, these games are becoming epic, they’re becoming instant classics, so you don’t want to ruin that. I think that’s where people come from when they say adding teams would be a bad thing.”
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said earlier this month that the league is looking to add two teams within the next few years. Bird argues that, even with expansion, there also needs to be a focus on development.
“There is so much talent that’s getting cut, or they never get to get seen, and you need to be in the professional environment to grow those players, for them to get that taste,” she says.
As for where the league should go next, Bird has some ideas.
“I would pick the Bay Area, San Francisco probably. I think Portland would be a good one. I hear rumors and whispers of Toronto being interested, and I actually hear great things about that city,” Bird says. “I have never been, but I hear great things about them from a basketball perspective.”
Listen to the full conversation on The Players’ Pod for more on Bird’s thoughts on WNBA expansion.