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.

Rumor: Suns, Magic have inquired about Knicks’ Frank Ntilikina

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Where do the Knicks stand on Frank Ntilikina, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft (taken ahead of Dennis Smith Jr. Zach Collins, and Donovan Mitchell)?

This should tell you all you need to know: The Denver Nuggets decided to cast Emmanuel Mudiay aside and the Knicks traded for him and instantly Mudiay jumped Ntilikina on the depth chart.

Ntilikina has played good defense but unimpressive offense for the Knicks this season and there is a thought from other teams around the league they may try to trade the young European.

A few teams are interested, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, but — shocker! — there may be a split in the front office about what to do between president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry.

Despite the Knicks’ clear lack of confidence in Ntilikina, teams have inquired about the 20-year-old, with the Magic and Suns expressing interest, according to a source. And this is where it gets interesting. There seems to be a debate within the Knicks on whether to deal Ntilikina. He was drafted by Mills and has supporters in the front office. But, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, Perry, who took the job after Ntilikina was drafted, recently approached the Atlanta Hawks to gauge whether the team was interested in dealing for the guard (Hawks have Trae Young and weren’t interested).

The Suns and Magic both desperately need point guards. However, neither are offering much in trades knowing that come free agency next July there will be better, more established targets — D'Angelo Russell, Terry Rozier, among others.

Ntilikina is a good perimeter defender whose skills could be developed in the right situation into a rotation point guard. Probably. But because the offers will be lowball, the Knicks would essentially just be dumping the No. 8 pick of a season ago, a guy who is only 20 years old. That would be a mistake — if the Knicks can’t get decent value back, keep Ntilikina and try to develop him themselves. Point guards take longer to come around in the NBA, maybe Ntilikina will develop into a player the Knicks want to keep.

But the rumors are out there and it’s something to keep an eye on.

Markelle Fultz returns to Philadelphia to do shoulder rehab with team

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Markelle Fultz is back with the 76ers.

Not in uniform for games, but he is back from Los Angeles and in Philadelphia working out with the team to recover from thoracic outlet syndrome, according to multiple reports. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the story, then Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia confirmed it.

Fultz was in the arena for the Sixers game Saturday against the Thunder on national television (though not suited up to play).

There is no timetable for Fultz’s return, although his agent has said he expects Fultz to be back on the court this season. Whether that would be with the Sixers is another question, teams have called about the availability of the No. 1 pick from the 2017 NBA Draft, but the offers have been so lowball that none of them have been seriously considered by Philadelphia.

After consulting with a number of specialists just a few weeks into the season (and just after the Jimmy Butler trade), the 20-year-old Fultz was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, a pinching of the nerve through the collarbone area. Since December he has been in Los Angeles is doing physical therapy to relieve the issue.

Fultz has returned to Philadelphia and is continuing that therapy.

 

Report: Rockets trying to trade Carmelo Anthony, likely to waive Nunnally to create roster spot

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To bring in some front line depth in the form of Kenneth Faried Monday, the Houston Rockets first have to clear a roster spot.

That led to a lot of speculation it could be Carmelo Anthony who is let go, he remains on the roster but not with the team, in a kind of limbo while the Rockets and ‘Melo’s agent look for a landing spot. (He reportedly has several options and will choose one before the trade deadline, but if he really liked any of those options he would have already taken them rather than waiting for a better offer.)

The Rockets are “aggressively” trying to trade Anthony and find him a new home before Monday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported. However, James Nunnally is the most likely guy out, he was just signed to a 10-day contract.

If the Rockets haven’t waived ‘Melo yet, they’re not going to do it now.

Houston GM Daryl Morey is also working the phone lines to find wing depth to add to the Rockets’ roster. While James Harden‘s historic streak has carried the Rockets back into the playoff picture in the West, this is not the same Houston team that was a threat to the Warriors a season ago. Morey’s off-season gambles — including Anthony — have not panned out, and he is now trying to correct them.

Pelicans’ Anthony Davis out 1-2 weeks with sprained finger

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This is bad.

The New Orleans Pelicans are 21-25 and four games back of the eight seed in the West having lost 3-of-4 on the current road trip. When Anthony Davis is not on the court, the Pelicans get outscored by 4.2 points per 100 possessions.

Davis is not going to be on the court for a week or two due to a sprained finger, the team announced Saturday morning.

Looking ahead at the schedule, Davis is likely to miss between three and seven games.

Davis has played at an MVP level this season, averaging 29.3 points per game on 50.8 percent shooting, plus grabs 13.3 rebounds and dishes out 4.4 assists a night. And that’s just on offense, defensively he is one of the best rim protecting bigs in the league, averaging 2.6 blocks per game. Davis leads the NBA in win shares (8.3) and PER at 30.9. He has been an absolute beast all season long.

Yet he hasn’t been able to lead the Pelicans to a winning record because of the roster around him (and injuries that have sapped what little depth New Orleans had to begin with).

Because of that, the intensely competitive Davis — who has talked about legacy mattering more to him than money — is expected to turn down a $239 million contract extension from the Pelicans next summer. At that point New Orleans will have to consider trading him and 29 teams will be lined up to talk deal (the Celtics and Lakers are expected to be at the front of that line).