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

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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.

Gordon Hayward does not plan to leave bubble for birth of son

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When Boston first went to the NBA restart bubble in Orlando, Gordon Hayward was upfront: He was leaving the bubble for the birth of his fourth child.

Hayward ended up leaving the bubble for another reason — he severely sprained his ankle and was out for more than a month. During his rehab, Hayward left the bubble and spent time at home, returning a couple of weeks ago. Saturday he played his first game back for Boston, helping it to a win against the Heat.

Hayward’s wife, Robyn, has yet to have their son, but now Hayward does not plan to leave the bubble for the event, something first reported by Rachel Nichols of ESPN during Saturday’s game.

Hayward confirmed this after the game. So did Robyn in a social media post, adding the reports she was in labor already were not true.

I don’t envy the Hayward family having to make this choice. As a parent, I can’t imagine having missed the births of any of my children, but, like everything else in 2020, this is far from a typical decision at a typical time. The Haywards are making the best of it they can. They deserve support no matter what they choose.

LeBron James, Dion Waiters’ son engage in a little trash talk

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“Yeah, right.”

That was Dion Waiters Jr.’s response to pretty much everything LeBron James during the Lakers’ practice on Saturday before Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

LeBron was getting up some corner threes and told Waiters Jr. he would make 100 straight.

“Yeah, right.”

When LeBron missed one, “I missed that on purpose.” 

“Yeah, right.”

“I missed that on purpose, so you’d think I’m human,” LeBron joked.

Got to love Dion Waiters Jr. — he’s got some of his dad’s spunk.

Families have been allowed in the bubble for teams for a couple of weeks, although LeBron’s sons are not there, with LeBron saying it’s not a great place for kids (he’s right, for anyone over about 7 or 8, there would be little to do).

Aggressive, attacking Boston drives right into heart of Miami defense, wins Game 3

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On Boston’s first possession of the game, Marcus Smart drove right to the rim and got an and-1 on a reverse layup.

Next possession, Jaylen Brown got a bucket cutting for a layup, with the assist from Smart. Next possession, Brown drove the lane and banked in a floater. The next Boston bucket was a Jayson Tatum driving layup.

The first nine Boston points came with them attacking the heart of the Miami defense (going at Duncan Robinson in particular), and that continued all game with the Celtics getting 60 points in the paint.

“Boston came out with great force. You have to give them credit for that,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said after the game.

Throw in 31 quality minutes from Gordon Hayward in his return from a sprained ankle — providing more quality wing play and good decision making — and Boston raced out to a comfortable lead then hung on at the end for a 117-106 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Heat lead the series 2-1, with Game 4 not until Wednesday night (a little delay to allow the West to catch up).

After a sloppy Game 2 loss where the Celtics became passive in the face of Miami’s zone defense in the second half, followed by a postgame meltdown and meeting of the minds, the guys at the heart of the Celtics young core stepped up their game on Saturday night.

Particularly Brown, who had 26 points on 11-of-17 shooting and was getting to the rim all game. He also was playing smothering defense.

Smart — an All-Defensive Team player — had his best game of the series, blanketing Goran Dragic, who had been the Heat’s best scorer and shot creator through two games. Without Dragic breaking down the Celtics’ defense and getting points in the paint, Miami has to live by the three and the Celtics defenders did a better job staying home.

“Marcus’ ball pressure on Dragic was important,” Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens said postgame. “It’s something we need to continue to look at. Marcus did a great job on a guy who is playing better than I’ve ever seen him.”

Boston also got more minutes from Gordon Hayward than expected, minutes Stevens called a “stabilizing force” for the team.

“I’m extremely tired right now. My ankle is pretty sore,” Hayward said postgame, adding with the extra days off he should be good to go for Game 4.

Hayward’s presence also allowed Boston to play small ball without Daniel Theis or any true center on the floor, the Celtics switched everything defensively, and Miami didn’t take advantage. Look for Eric Spoelstra to turn to more Bam Adebayo against that small lineup next game.

“They got us on our heels. They were out there hooping and having fun. I guess that was the difference in the game,” Bam Adebayo said postgame.

Miami didn’t shoot the ball well Saturday night, hitting just 27.3% from three. Jae Crowder, who had been hot, was 2-of-8 from deep, while Tyler Herro was 4-of-12. Adebayo had 27 points and 16 boards to lead the Heat.

Boston had four players with more than 20 points: Brown (26), Tatum (25), Kemba Walker (21), and Smart (20).

Boston will need another game like that — and they will need to close better, Miami made it interesting late — to even the series on Wednesday.

Miami said postgame they saw what happened in this game as a challenge to them. Game 4 is going to be intense.

Ja Morant points out one person who didn’t vote him Rookie of the Year

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Ja Morant was not the unanimous Rookie of the Year — 99 out of 100 media members voted for him, one voted for Zion Williamson.

When the media votes became public Saturday, Morant got to see who the one voter who voted for someone else was: Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Crowley stood up for his vote, and everything was good between them (at least on social media).

While the votes come from media members, the NBA goes out of its way to put together voters who see things differently, something ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne talked about is an excellent thread on Twitter, although she was speaking about the case for LeBron James over Giannis Antetokounmpo for MVP.

To be clear, I was one of the Morant voters, and I will readily admit that Zion is the better player (at least right now). I consider the impact on winning heavily when voting, which led me to Morant because he played 59 games before the bubble and had his team in a playoff position, while Zion played only 19 and did not (only games before the NBA restart in Orlando were to be considered, per NBA rules). I also expect and respect the fact that not everyone will see it that way, or even define what matters most in winning the award the same way. Diversity of thought and views is a good thing, it leads to better outcomes. Crowley should vote what he sees and believes, and that should be respected.

Unanimous or not, Morant will go down as the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year. The voting will be a footnote at most.