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Originally published Saturday, July 20, 2013 at 7:59 PM

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WNBA president Laurel Ritchie content with keeping league at 12 teams

The WNBA president said she would rather nurture the current teams than consider expanding to Sacramento or other cities.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The purple streamers and posters are packed away, but the question of whether Sacramento will be granted a WNBA expansion team lingers.

Discussions were part of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s push last spring to retain the Kings. Majority owner Vivek Ranadive secured the vote in May, the NBA denying a relocation to Seattle. Former Monarchs players attended the celebratory rally to show support in the hope the WNBA returns a team to the city.

WNBA president Laurel Richie said Saturday she enjoys any city expressing an interest in acquiring an expansion team. But she reiterated her stance in nurturing the league’s current 12 teams.

“I feel every year gets us closer to the point of where we would think about it,” said Richie of expansion. Sacramento wouldn’t likely be interested in adding a team until its new sports complex opens in 2016.

“When you get to this level of talent from the player and coach perspective, it makes it really exciting,” Richie said of the strength and depth of the WNBA this season. “So, I don’t feel in a rush, having arrived at this point, to change it right away. Our fans and our viewers are really enjoying where we are right now.”

Expansion could be part of talks when negotiating the WNBA’s new collective-bargaining agreement. The current deal expires at the end of this season.

Player representatives have already expressed a need to expand player rosters from 11 to 13, which would include a player reserve. Multiple teams are trying to balance staying competitive with rosters depleted by injuries.

“I’m going to leave all of the conversations with the CBA to that process,” said Richie of upcoming negotiations. “I look forward to really partnering with players and coming out on the other end with an agreement that’s good for the long-term health of the league.”

Richie, in her third season as league president, spoke as part of her annual trip to Seattle. She’s joining Karen Bryant, the Storm’s president and CEO, on a kayaking excursion Sunday as part of the Take Your Health by Storm campaign.

A casual swimmer, Richie stated she hasn’t been kayaking since a trip in Vancouver nearly a decade ago. She’ll be in a vessel with Bryant.

“I might tip and roll,” Richie teased of her rusty skills. “You do not want the president to go under in your market.”

Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or jevans@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @JaydaEvans

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