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Details emerge about how the NBA would potentially add and implement a midseason tournament

Aug 16, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

Adam Silver Adam Silver

The idea of the NBA adding a midseason tournament to its annual schedule first came about earlier this summer, when commissioner Adam Silver said at a Board of Governors press conference in Las Vegas that it was something the competition committee believed was a real possibility.

“One of the things that I didn’t mention before that the competition committee talked about and seemed excited about is potentially some sort of midseason tournament,” Silver said. “Very early days in the discussion of that, but we’re looking at other opportunities in the league to create excitement.

“As one of our general managers said at the meeting, there’s very few things that you can win in the NBA. I mean, when you think about European soccer, for example, they have the FA Cup and they have other tournaments throughout the season, so I could imagine if we were to look at some sort of mid‑season tournament I would imagine doing something in Vegas. This would be a terrific neutral site location.”

While it’s still in the very early stages of planning, it appears to be something that the league is strongly considering.

In a survey sent out to its fans via the NBA Fan Forum program, the league had a number of questions regarding the structure and implementation of a midseason tournament.

- Concrete details of how to launch something like this remain scarce, but the league seems to have figured a few things out. The tournament would take place in the middle of the season (January/February), it would be single-elimination style, and the final round would likely take place during All-Star weekend.

- The league seems to be all ears in terms of which teams and how many of them should be included. The survey asked which matchups would be of the most interest, how many teams should be in the tournament, whether or not international teams like Real Madrid or Maccabi Tel Aviv should be invited, and when the first round matchups for the tournament should be determined. A lot to figure out, here, to be sure.

- The timing of the tournament was narrowed to two options: Should it be played continuously over a 10-day period, or spread out a bit more, with first round games followed by regular season games before the later rounds are played? To me, playing it continuously is the only way that would make sense.

- The topic of prizes for the winner of such a tournament came up, and the initial options on the table are a guaranteed spot in the playoffs, a playoff seeding reward such as home court advantage in the first round, or a financial prize to the winning team and its players.

This was not brought up during the survey, but using a tournament like this to aid in how draft picks are allocated might be an interesting concept. Have the eight worst teams in the league record-wise at the time the tournament begins compete, with the winner either getting the number one overall pick in the following NBA Draft, or receiving the highest odds of landing the top pick via the Draft Lottery system that’s already in place. Teams could no longer tank to get the top overall pick, since loading a roster with bad or not-yet-ready players would leave a team too weak to beat the others in tournament play.

- The final question asked was whether or not the tournament should replace the All-Star game entirely. It should be obvious that this is a bad idea, but in case it isn’t: That idea is terrible.

There’s a lot to sort out here, and a lot to process in order to do this in a way that wouldn’t throw the regular season into complete chaos.

One thing most agree on is that there are too many regular season games that end up forcing players to play when they aren’t at their competitive best, either by being at a disadvantage on the second night of a back-to-back set, or by being in the middle of a stretch that has a team playing its fourth game in five nights.

If a tournament could be done properly, it would be a huge revenue-generator for the league’s owners — which might just allow them to be open to the idea of shedding some regular season games in exchange.

It’s clear that the league isn’t yet close to knowing exactly how this would work, and again, there’s so much to figure out that we might be several years away from actually seeing this take place. But it’s equally clear that this is something that’s seriously being considered.

  1. ProBasketballPundit - Aug 16, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    ETAH Tournament Details: sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/070411

    • ProBasketballPundit - Aug 16, 2014 at 5:33 PM

      *E.A.H.T. (Acronyms are hard)

  2. borisalessandri - Aug 16, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    I’m opposed to this

  3. arb927 - Aug 16, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    The only thing I like is part about the 8 worst teams…. That would be pretty cool

    • twinfan24 - Aug 16, 2014 at 8:35 PM

      Great! We could then see teams tank earlier in the season, so they would be bad enough to qualify for the draft pick tourney.

  4. seattlenative57 - Aug 16, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    I’ll say it. This is a dumb idea.

  5. saint1997 - Aug 16, 2014 at 7:34 PM

    Why in Vegas? Why not – say – Seattle? But I do kind of like the idea of something else to compete for, though I don’t think monetary reward is the best option. It’s tough with playoff as well, because once let’s say the Cavs win, does that mean they rest LeBron and Kyrie for the rest of the season?

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 18, 2014 at 12:33 AM

      Fans are more likely to travel to Vegas in the middle of winter than they would be to Seattle.

  6. motobus - Aug 16, 2014 at 7:42 PM

    This is an awful idea. It makes no sense in American sports.

  7. Damidwesterner - Aug 16, 2014 at 9:29 PM

    I don’t like the finals during All-Star weekend because there’s going to be somebody on the teams in the finals who will also be in the All-Star game. They’re already complaining about the lack of off-time; now that it’s an All-Star week, you’re going to mess up players on a couple teams.

  8. ocgunslinger - Aug 16, 2014 at 10:34 PM

    President Obama said “Don’t do stupid stuff”. Pay heed to our__________(fill in the blank as you see fit).

  9. birdgang - Aug 17, 2014 at 1:02 AM

    Yeaaaa, let’s send the NBA teams to Vegas where the stanchion is way too close to the court so we can potentially have more terrible injuries like the one PG13 suffered. The idea itself may be cool but it needs to be held anywhere else but Vegas.

    • stoudemelo - Aug 17, 2014 at 2:07 PM

      Basketball has been played at the Thomas and Mac for nearly 30 years. It was a freak accident that could happen anywhere else.

      • duhwighthoward - Aug 17, 2014 at 3:01 PM

        Agreed. Besides, the Thomas and Mac is one of the best places to watch a game live. Lakers used to (not sure if they still do) play preseason games there. It got much louder than Staples Center ever has, even during playoff games.

      • spursareold - Aug 18, 2014 at 10:19 AM

        Probably because there are REAL fans a the T&M for the whole game, unlike the rich lizard people at Staples who arrive at the end of the first and leave at the end of the third.

  10. mrhonorama - Aug 17, 2014 at 8:29 AM

    Why would it be a terrible idea to get rid of the All-Star game? It would be a welcome innovation. Major League Baseball (or rather, Chicago Tribune sportswriter Arch Ward) started the All-Star game concept in 1933 and the allure was two-fold: 1) the players in the two leagues never faced each other during the regular season, and, 2) baseball lends itself to an actual competition (i.e., less risk of being hurt). Other pro sports leagues developed their own, but the Pro Bowl and NBA and NHL all-star games are a joke and poor representations of their respective sports. If you like competitive, well-played games, then you have no need for those all-star games (and the MLB game can go too — interleague play and the player-from-every-team requirement make it a joke).

    • spursareold - Aug 18, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      The only problem that I have with AS weekend is the actual GAME itself. It’s trash.

      1) select All Stars and honor them. No game.
      2) the rest of the weekend goes off exactly the same, Slam Dunk, Skills, Rising Stars
      3) the Sunday slot will be the tournament final, a REAL game, replacing the POS AS game.

  11. elcaminobilly - Aug 17, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    The league does not need less games. They just need to be scheduled better. The season needs to be longer to prevent back-to-backs. Possible suggestion: Start the season earlier, perhaps replace or move up the pre-season.

  12. ndrick731 - Aug 17, 2014 at 2:06 PM

    The beginning of the end of the NBA.

  13. imakcds - Aug 17, 2014 at 4:30 PM

    this is exactly the same as all the different ‘awards’ shows in Hollywood, just another marketing scheme to get you to spend your money.
    If I were the NBA Players Association, I would be totally against the added workload and risk of injury.
    Why take away from the focus of the REAL goal, the NBA Championship?

  14. mogogo1 - Aug 18, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    An interesting idea but I see no way that it would ever take the place of the All-Star game. Plenty to complain about concerning the All-Star game but what appeal there is remains you get a ton of stars showing off their skills in an exhibition setting where you can see some fun things you don’t normally see in a regular game. A tournament wouldnn’t provide any of that. And coming on the heels of the Paul George injury with the national team, this idea strikes me as one that would seem just great right up until some important player got hurt.

    And the ideas concerning automatic bids to the playoffs or better seeding for winning are absurd and would really mess with the end of season excitement where teams are trying to get in or jockeying for seeding.

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