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Mid-season NBA Tournament in Vegas? Adam Silver says he’ll consider it. Also talks replay system, more.

Jul 16, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT

Adam Silver Adam Silver

While in a gym on one side of Las Vegas hundreds of young men with an NBA dream try to prove they are worthy, across town the rich guys in suits — the owners — are sitting down to figure out how to make the league more profitable.

Would a mid-season NBA Tournament do that?

The long NBA season is a grind and speaking to the media in Las Vegas Tuesday NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the owners were floating the idea around of a mid-season tournament in Las Vegas. From Steve Aschburner of

The popularity of the summer league in Las Vegas – with attendance up 25 percent, Silver said – has the league open to ideas for a greater role in the nation’s gambling capital. One possibility, mentioned without details as a brainstorm from the competition committee: A midseason tournament of some sort.

The NBA season is already 82 games leading into a two-month playoff format, so an FA Cup style tournament only works if you reduce the number of regular season games, essentially taking a mid-season break to play it. You may say “that’s a good idea” but good luck convincing owners to give up local-revenue — fewer home games lowers season ticket revenue, in-arena sponsor revenue, money generated from parking and concessions, and so on — for some centralized tournament. It’s not really feasible.

But this is another sign that, unlike David Stern at times, Silver is the kind of leader open to ideas and discussing just about anything.

Other things Silver mentioned out of the owner and competition committee meetings in Vegas:

• The NBA will test out a centralized replay system starting with WNBA games in September. However, this will work a little differently than the NHL system where the guys in the league office make the calls (on if it’s a goal or not, for example) and relay the decision to the on-ice officials. In the NBA version the league office will have in-office officials cull the replays so when the on-the-court officials walk over and flip the monitor around to look at it the league can, in theory, quickly give them the best angles to make a decision. Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated had the direct quotes:

“Now, as you know,” Silver said in February, “the game stops, the referees walk courtside, turn the monitor around, talk to the truck, order up the replays. And I think that it’s our belief if we can get it right, that if have you officials, in essence, located at headquarters, at a central site, that that process can begin immediately, they then can communicate with the officials and that will save time.”

We’ll see if that really speeds things up, or leads to the right calls. My guess is Doc Rivers has his doubts. So do I.

• Silver said he was “moved” by LeBron James’ decision to return to Cleveland. Again Golliver of Sports Illustrated with the quotes:

“When I read his first-person account on Sports Illustrated, I really was moved by it. It says a lot about who he is, who he has become over the last four years. His statement about northeast Ohio, about hard work [and] this being about something larger than basketball and the NBA.”

“Maybe I would have had a different feeling if he was just shopping his services to wherever he thought he could have the greatest chance of winning a championship,” Silver said. “Not that that wouldn’t have been his right. But I thought that [his choice] to go back to northeast Ohio was an exciting moment for him personally.”

• Silver said he thought the new CBA, with its emphasis on shorter contracts, has made free agency far more interesting.

• He said negotiations on a new national television deal are ongoing with the league’s existing partners (Disney/ABC/ESPN and Time Warner/TNT). He hinted another partner could be added to the mix.

• A group of minority owners for the Milwaukee Bucks was approved. No, Aaron Rodgers was not one of them, despite the rumors.

  1. phillyguyindc - Jul 16, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    That speech was filled with conjecture. To your point about the replay, the way he described it was odd. He said the central headquarters in Secaucus would key up the correct replay angles for the officials on the court and the officials on the court would make the decision. I’m not sure this would make much of a difference.

  2. balfe13 - Jul 16, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    Considering how often the cameras show the officials awkwardly standing at the monitor looking at a shot of themselves staring at the monitor, some kind of central help in finding correct angles can’t hurt.

    • usavebob - Jul 16, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      A centralized review would yield a different result in some cases as the refs, on-ste are vested in their original call. There’s also some emotion involved as well as the fact that no one likes to admit they were wrong. it all won’t work if it makes the game any longer.
      In the world cup, things moved along very quickly as they have no mechanism for quibbling….play on.

    • phillyguyindc - Jul 16, 2014 at 11:59 AM

      But are you actually cutting out any middle men? Unless the NBA HQ has a direct feed to that monitor, they still have to tell the local producer which screen shots to put up, right? And the only way the HQ knows what angles to put up is by watching whatever they see on TV unless they have feeds from all the cameras for all the games going on at once. I’m not in media at all but it seems to me that more people are in the do-loop with the way he described it.

      In the NHL, the entire review process happens remotely, not half of it.

  3. borderline1988 - Jul 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    They should do a mid-summer NCAA style tournament with all the summer league teams. The winning team gets to split a $5 million pot.

  4. saint1997 - Jul 16, 2014 at 9:39 AM

    Clever play from Silver. Even if these things don’t pan out he still has the perception of listening to others and floating out ideas. I like the idea of a sudden death tournament IF it had some real implications. Perhaps a guaranteed playoff spot? I don’t know but if there is one thing the NBA is lacking it’s that Cinderella runs rarely happen

    • mogogo1 - Jul 16, 2014 at 6:47 PM

      Agreed. This is the sort of idea Stern wouldn’t even have addressed. Silver will at least consider it.

      Ultimately, I’d guess the GMs/owners/coaches won’t be that in love with the idea. Meanwhile, the fans would love it and the players would likely be on board if there was some significant prize money involved. And I’d say if enacted it would be quite successful until the moment a key player went down injured at which time the media would whip everybody into a frenzy and be calling for the coach and GM to be fired for letting the guy play.

  5. rrhoe - Jul 16, 2014 at 9:47 AM

    A mid-season tournament involing NBA players is not a good idea,sorry……

    • rrhoe - Jul 16, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      A mid-season tournament involving NBA players is not a good idea,sorry……

      • jcmeyer10 - Jul 16, 2014 at 9:54 AM

        This string was so Canadian.

  6. navyeoddavee9 - Jul 16, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    The FA Cup works because teams from lower divisions and non divisions play in a tournament, where they get to go against the big teams, sometimes resulting in a fairy tale run. How could the NBA, possibly put on a FA Cup type tournament

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 16, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      D-League and ABA teams?

    • apkyletexas - Jul 16, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      Let the Lakers get blown out by 50 by the Clippers? Oh wait, that happens already…

  7. soopreme - Jul 16, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    Another thing that the league should consider is exempting the top 5 or 10 players in the league from the salary cap.
    It’s no way that a players such as Lebron and Kobe (in his prime) should be subjected to a cap when they alone can double the value of a team or increase the overall league value. They should be exempt from the cap.

    • rmccleary97 - Jul 16, 2014 at 11:46 AM

      So what if you pay Lebron $45 million? There’s a luxury tax in place, there’s other cap exemptions in place, and players are capped in aggregate as to what they can get paid – and 20-25 teams are not going to exempt those 5-10 guys from luxury tax considerations so 5-10 teams can benefit. And no, “well everyone could potentially benefit from it” won’t fly – until top-tier guys start deciding, “you know what, I don’t want to play in New York or Los Angeles or Miami or Chicago – I want to go play for Atlanta / Memphis / Charlotte / Milwaukee / Minnesota / Golden State” we all can name the few franchises that would benefit directly from such a move.

  8. yesser12 - Jul 16, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    None of the stars/key players would be playing in the mid season tourney. I can’t see them risking injury for a substitute title. Bad idea

    • RavenzGunnerz - Jul 16, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      That’s up to the coach to decide. But I like the idea that a young and upcoming team wins some trophy before they are ready for major league.

      Also, a double in English Soccer (winning the league and the FA cup) is something awesome.

      • mogogo1 - Jul 16, 2014 at 6:43 PM

        I can’t see anybody with playoff aspirations (which is the majority of the league at the midseason point) risking injury for some meaningless tournament. Even if it was great entertainment for the fans, the coaches and GMs would be destroyed in the press if somebody got hurt.

        The Warriors would basically match the upcoming definition and they fired their coach last season for losing in 7 games in the playoffs. So, I’d guess at least their ownership would view any ill effects from a midseason tournament fairly harshly. Not all teams might take that view, but seems like some definitely would not be down with the idea.

  9. fiyeaglesfiy - Jul 16, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    I know i’m in the minority here, but why is everybody so moved by Lebron’s decision to go back to the Cavs. I’m not a Cavs fan nor a Heat fan, but had Lebron stayed in 2010 to try and bring a championship to his hometown team, I would’ve had a lot of respect for that and been rooting for him. But bailing on your team to go to a stacked Miami teami, while Cleveland loads up on three (undeserved) #1 picks in addition two other top 5 picks in 4 years, and then returning to the Cavs when they have a cheap, young, talented roster, with cap space to add more parts too. He looked for the easy way to win when he left for Miami, and now he’s selling high, leaving a declining Heat team for a young, up and coming Cavs team that gives him a chance to win. Sure, i’m sure his familiarity with Ohio played a part in this decision, but at the end of the day, he’s again looking for the easiest path to the finals. That’s his perogative, nothing wrong with that, but let’s not glorify him as coming home to bring a championship to his homestate when that was more a convenient story-line. The noble decision would’ve been to stay through the tough years too to bring Cleveland a championship, not just come back and be the hero when it’s easier.

  10. Gabbo - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    An end of the season tourney would be the best. Top 7 teams each conference make the playoffs AND get a week off for rest. All other teams go into a single elimination tourney for the final 2 spots. Here’s how to prevent end of season tanking issue. All teams losing in their respective rounds get the same exact chance in the lottery. In the lottery you only get a 4 spot guarantee, ie the 2nd worst regular season team gets at least 6th automatically, 10th worst team drafts 14th or better.

    So 8 first round losers get 8% each.
    4 2nd round losers get 4% each.
    All final 4 teams get 3% each.
    So yes, the final 2 teams still get 3% and have a chance to win the title.

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