Getty Images

Could an NBA team in Las Vegas be on the horizon? Star players back idea.

6 Comments

The Golden Knights of the NHL are there and thriving, with a sold-out arena and reaching the Stanley Cup Finals on the ice.

The WNBA’s Aces are enjoying their inaugural season in the city.

A year from now, the NFL’s Raiders will be playing there.

So what about an NBA team in Las Vegas?

The Las Vegas Review-Journal asked a bunch of the NBA’s biggest names — in town for the USA Basketball mini-camp last week — and they were down with the idea of an NBA franchise in Sin City.

“Even just from adding an NHL team, they’re doing great things,” reigning NBA MVP James Harden of the Houston Rockets said. “It’s built for it. Obviously, the money is there, but I think the fan support is there as well. We saw that in hockey.”

“The hockey team here did really, really well,” Blake Griffin said. “I don’t know if you consider it a sports town because of everything that’s going on here, but I think people appreciate sports here. I think all sports would do well here. It’s probably something in the future, but I think everybody realizes how much basketball brings to a city, and I don’t know that it would be easy to take a team away from a different city to bring one here.”

“They’ve got hockey here, and they’ve got WNBA here, the NFL will be here in a couple of years,” Paul George of the Oklahoma City Thunder said. “I think Vegas is built for an NBA team. I think they should be here. It has everything. It’s easy access from the airport down to the Strip. I don’t see why not.”

The NBA brings its summer show — the Las Vegas Summer League — to town every year, which had NBA Commissioner Adam Silver saying it was like having a franchise here. The stigma of gambling and its potential influence on the sport has lessened over the years, and with other states starting to allow sports betting in the wake of a recent Supreme Court ruling there will be a number of teams in states where fans can bet on the game.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks was cleared a couple of years ago — the T-Mobile arena (where the Golden Knights play) is a state-of-the-art facility. (The Thomas & Mack is good enough for Summer League, but it is not an NBA-level arena.)

Now the challenge is getting a team.

The NBA has no plans to expand, with sources telling me there is no owner appetite for it right now (it would take a two-thirds vote of the existing NBA owners to approve any expansion). NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said this at the Finals, “Expansion, at least for right now… I’m very focused on creating a competitive 30-team league right now… Understandably people are saying can’t you do more to create more competition among your 30 teams, at least from a competitive standpoint my first reaction isn’t to think, all right, let’s add a 31st team or 32nd team.”

Which means poaching another city’s NBA team. That would involve a Las Vegas-tied billionaire buying an existing team with a lease about to run out then paying the league (again, really the other owners) a relocation fee for the right to move the team to Vegas. Currently, with ownership not changing hands in Memphis and a new building about to open in Milwaukee, a franchise in that position is not available in the near future. (Right now Gayle Benson, the widow of Tom Benson, has said she has no plans to sell or move the Pelicans from New Orleans, and the franchise’s lease at the Smoothie King Center runs through 2024. However, if you were going to watch one situation, this would be it.)

Even if all that comes together, the hypothetical Vegas billionaire would be competing with people who want to bring the NBA back to Seattle (something the NBA wants), plus other cities such as Kansas City, Louisville, or even Mexico City (another idea the NBA likes) where there is interest. It would end up being a bidding war for the franchise with the winner getting the right to pay more to move the team to the city of his/her choosing. It would be very expensive.

The NBA in Las Vegas may well happen, eventually. It would be a good fit, Las Vegas has grown up into a real city. Just don’t expect anything sooner rather than later.

Jamal Murray: Had bone bruise on foot, “didn’t have the energy I needed”

Jamal Murray
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

It ultimately may not have changed anything, not the way LeBron James was playing, but the Jamal Murray in Game 5 did not look like the Jamal Murray who had helped lift the Denver Nuggets to that point. He was clearly bothered and not moving with the speed and fluidity he had throughout the playoffs.

“I have a big bruise on my foot. Just hurt me all game,” Murray said after the loss that eliminated Denver from the playoffs. “I changed shoes and that didn’t help. Yeah, I have a bone bruise. I don’t like to tell everybody what I got. I just like to play through it. Yeah, I was in pain, but it’s cool.

“I was out there. I was struggling a little bit today. Eighty-something days in the bubble and a lot of minutes, I didn’t have the energy I needed to have for my teammates today. Without me moving as hard or cutting as hard or scoring as much… I could have played a lot better this game.”

Murray finished the game with 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting and dished out eight assists, and part of what slowed him down was the Lakers’ assigned LeBron to guard him for stretches. That said, Murray was not moving like the guy who carved up Utah or who dropped 40 on the Clippers in Game 7. Still, he was out there still trying.

“He was our leader,” Nikola Jokic said of Murray. “His energy through the whole playoffs. He was banged up. He was injured before, even when I came here [to the bubble], he was a little bit banged up… But he’s a dog. He’s a fighter. He’s a competitor. He’s an amazing shooter. He played amazing.”

Like his coach and teammates, Murray was frustrated to be going home but looked back with pride at the leap the Nuggets made this postseason.

“We proved we can challenge the Clippers, who were the favorites. We proved we can challenge the Lakers,” Murray said. “And it’s only our second year in the playoffs. I wish things went differently, but I’m just proud of our guys, proud of everything we have done, everything we have accomplished. It’s not the end goal, but to make it this far and surprise as many people as we did, it’s a good feeling.

“So just try to come back next year and try to come back stronger.”

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Date, time, matchup for every game

NBA playoff schedule 2020
AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Leave a comment

And there were four.

The NBA is down to the conference finals — and the bubble has provided us with upsets galore. There are some unexpected teams in the NBA’s Final Four, but of course LeBron James is still there. The Lakers are the heavy favorites at this point.

Here are a few notes on the NBA playoffs schedule 2020:

• The NBA is continuing to push the pace with games every other day — except in the East, when ESPN wants a break not to clash with the NFL, and to let the West catch up. The fast pace of games will return with the NBA Finals.
Families for the players, and with the final four now the coaches, are in the bubble.
• The NBA Finals will begin on Wednesday, Sept. 30, if Miami closes the Easter Conference Finals out in six games. If the series goes seven games the Finals will start on Friday, Oct. 2.

Here is the NBA playoffs schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern):

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 3 Boston Celtics vs. No. 5 Miami Heat

Game 1: Heat 117, Celtics 114, OT
Game 2: Heat 106, Celtics 101
Game 3: Celtics 117, Heat 106
Game 4: Heat 112, Celtics 109
Game 5: Celtics 121, Heat 108 (Miami leads series 3-2)
Game 6: Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 7: Sept. 30, 8:30 p.n. (ESPN)*
*If necessary

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 3 Denver Nuggets

Game 1: Lakers 126, Nuggets 114
Game 2: Lakers 105, Nuggets 103
Game 3: Nuggets 114, Lakers 106
Game 4: Lakers 114, Nuggets 108
Game 5: Lakers 117, Nuggets 107 (Lakers win series 4-1)

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Second Round results

Eastern Conference

No. 3 Boston beat No. 2 Toronto 4-3

No. 5 Miami beat No. 1 Milwaukee 4-1

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston 4-1

No. 3 Denver beat No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: First Round results

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat No. 8 Portland 4-1

No. 2 L.A. Clippers beat No. 7 Dallas 4-2

No. 3 Denver beat No. 6 Utah 4-3

No. 4 Houston beat No. 5 Oklahoma City 4-3

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee beat No. 8 Orlando 4-1

No. 2 Toronto beat No. 7 Brooklyn 4-0

No. 3 Boston beat No. 6 Philadelphia 4-0

No. 5 Miami beat No. 4 Indiana 4-0

LeBron James takes over, leads Lakers back to NBA Finals with win

Leave a comment

The Denver Nuggets had come back from 3-1 down twice in these playoffs.

The Denver Nuggets had never run into LeBron James.

LeBron dominated this close-out game. He scored 16 points in the fourth quarter. He put up a triple-double of 38 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. Defensively he shut down Jamal Murray (who was slowed due to a bone bruise on his foot) and made smart plays.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed a guy take over a game the way he did in the fourth quarter tonight, in person,” Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel said of LeBron.

LeBron did what the Jazz and Clippers had failed to do — he and the Los Angeles Lakers closed out the Nuggets in five games with a 117-107 win.

“He’s had a chip on his shoulder all year long,” Vogel said about LeBron. “Everybody has doubters. To be in the Eastern Conference and get there as much as he had and to come over to the Western Conference, it’s an enormous accomplishment to [reach the Finals] with a third team.”

The Lakers advance to the NBA Finals, which will begin Wednesday (if Miami closes the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday) or Friday (if there is a Game 7 in the East).

LeBron James made history with the win, becoming the third player in NBA history to make it to 10 NBA Finals, joining Sam Jones (11) and Bill Russell (12) of the 1950s-60s Boston Celtics.

The Lakers pulled ahead in the first half of Game 5 because of Nikola Jokic‘s foul trouble — he played just eight minutes in the first half after picking up three quick ones. The Nuggets were +3 in those eight minutes and -13 in the other minutes of the first half, which had Dever down 10 at the break.

The Nuggets fought back in the third quarter, in part thanks to a monster game from Jeremi Grant who had 20 points on the night (tied with Jokic for a team high). Despite a hobbling Murray, the Nuggets did what they had done all playoffs long and refused to fold.

“What more could you ask from a group?” Denver coach Michael Malone said after the loss. “What more commitment, sacrifice, just everything in the last 82 days that our team has gone through. The history that we’ve made. The adversity that we faced and never ran from, embraced it… I couldn’t be more proud.”

Anthony Davis had 27 points for L.A. The Lakers also had role players stepping up. Alex Caruso had 11 points and was 5-of-7 from the floor. Danny Green also scored 11.

However, in the end, it was LeBron James looking like the best player on the planet.

Now he is headed to the Finals with the chance to make history and win a title with three different teams.

 

Lakers’ Anthony Davis ‘good to go’ for Game 5 despite sprained ankle

Anthony Davis
Getty Images
Leave a comment

This was expected, but when the Lakers officially listed Anthony Davis as questionable for Game 5 with a sprained ankle, it raised a few eyebrows.

Davis will play in Game 5 Saturday night, coach Frank Vogel said pregame.

Anthony Davis sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter of Game 4, and while he stayed in the game there were questions about how it would respond the next day.

The Lakers are up 3-1 on a Denver team they know will not be easy to close out.

To do that, Los Angeles needs Davis: When AD has been on the court in the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers have outscored the Nuggets by 9.4 points per 100 possessions, but when he sits, the Lakers are -21.3 (stats via NBA.com).

The Lakers want to close out in five games to get some added rest. The NBA Finals are expected to start next Wednesday, Sept. 30 (unless one conference finals series goes seven games, then it is likely Friday, Oct. 2). If the Lakers lose Saturday but win Game 6 Monday it would be a short turnaround (as it would be after a Game 7).

Denver, however, has played its best basketball whenever it has faced the prospect of packing its bags and going home.