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

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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.

Report: Price tag on Phoenix Suns could be more than $3 billion

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In 2004, Robert Sarver bought the Phoenix Suns for a then-record $401 million.

When Sarver sells the team now — pushed to do so following the backlash prompted by an NBA report that found an 18-year pattern of bigotry, misogyny, and a toxic workplace — he is going to make a massive profit.

The value of the Suns now is at $3 billion or higher, reports Ramona Shelburne and Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

There will be no shortage of bidders for the team, with league sources predicting a franchise valuation of more than $3 billion now that revenue has rebounded following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a new television rights deal and CBA on the horizon. Sarver purchased the team for just over $400 million in 2004.

Saver currently owns 35% of the Suns (the largest share), but reports say his role as managing partner allows him to sell the entire team (the minority owners have to comply, although they would make a healthy profit, too). Sarver also decides who to sell the team to, not the NBA or other owners.

Early rumors of buyers have included Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle), Bob Iger (former Disney CEO), Laurene Powell Jobs (widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, she has a 20% share of the Washington Wizards), and others. There have been no reports of talks yet, and Sarver does not need to be on a rushed timeline.

Meanwhile, a contending Suns team tries to focus on the season despite the owner selling the team, Jae Crowder not being in training camp and pushing for a trade, and Deandre Ayton does not sound happy to be back with the Suns.

Steve Nash on his relationship with Kevin Durant: ‘We’re good’

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In an effort to gain leverage for a trade this offseason, Kevin Durant threw down a “either the coach and GM are gone or I am” ultimatum.

Now coach Steve Nash (and GM Sean Marks) are back in Brooklyn, on the same team and trying to build a contender together. Awkward? Not if you ask Nash, which is what Nick Friedell of ESPN did.

“We’re fine,” Nash said after the Nets’ first official practice of the season on Tuesday. “We’re good. Ever since we talked, it’s been like nothing’s changed. I have a long history with Kevin. I love the guy. Families have issues. We had a moment and it’s behind us. That’s what happens. It’s a common situation in the league.

“We all were hurting, seething, to go through what we went through last year, not being able to overcome all that adversity. Sometimes you lose perspective because you expect to win, but the reality is we were able to talk and discuss what we can improve on from last year. And also keep perspective. We went through a ton of stuff.”

First off, what else was Nash going to say? He knows the power dynamic in the NBA, and Durant has far more leverage than he does — not enough to get Nash fired this summer, but still more than the coach.

Second, Nash could be telling the truth from his perspective. NBA players and coaches understand better than anyone this is a business and things are rarely personal. Grudges are not held like fans think they are (most of the time). Nash saw Durant’s move for what it was — an effort to create pressure — and can intellectually shrug it off, reach out to KD and talk about the future.

What this brings into question was one of the Nets’ biggest issues last season — mental toughness and togetherness. Do the Nets have the will to fight through adversity and win as a team? Individually Durant, Kyrie Irving, Nash and others have shown that toughness in the past, but as a team it was not that hard to break the will of the Nets last season. Are their relationships strong enough, is their will strong enough this season?

It feels like we will find out early. If the wheels come off the Nets’ season, it feels like it will happen early and by Christmas things could be a full-on dumpster fire. Or maybe Nash is right and they are stronger than we think.

Billy Donovan to choose Bulls’ starting PG during training camp

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Speaking at Chicago’s media day, Bulls head coach Billy Donovan said he will choose his starting point guard over the course of training camp. Lonzo Ball was expected to reprise his role as the starter, but he recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his troublesome knee and raised some eyebrows at media day when he said he couldn’t run or jump. Simply put, there is no guarantee we even see him at all this season.

Donovan is fortunate that he has a plethora of options though, as Goran Dragic, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White will all battle it out. “We’ll have to see how these guys gel and mesh once training camp starts and we start practicing,” Donovan said. “But I think we have enough back there that we can get the job done from that standpoint.”

Dragic is the most “seasoned option” to use Donovan’s own words and would be the safe pick, but at 36 years old, he doesn’t exactly raise Chicago’s ceiling. Plus, Donovan already hinted at managing his minutes throughout the season.

Alex Caruso is Chicago’s best defender and is going to play a massive role whether he starts or comes off the bench, although the latter seems more likely since he’s not a natural point guard.

Coby White showed improvement as a shooter last season, hitting 38% of his triples. However, it’s no secret that his name has been in the rumor mill and the Bulls hardly mentioned him at media day.

With that said, I think Ayo is the dark horse to start after showing some serious promise during his rookie season. In 40 starts, Ayo put up 10.9 points, 5.4 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.1 triples and 1.1 steals and was one of the best perimeter defenders on the team. Zach LaVine went out of his way to hype up Dosunmu at media day as well, so you have to love his chances of running away with the job.

Anthony Davis says his goal is to play in all 82 games

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Anthony Davis played 40 games last season, and 36 the season before that. Charles Barkley has nicknamed him “street clothes.”

In a critical season for him and the Lakers, the biggest question with Anthony Davis is not his skill set and if he can be elite, but how much can the Lakers trust him to be on the court? Davis said on media day his goal is to play all 82 games (speaking to Spectrum Sportsnet, the Lakers station in Los Angeles).

A full 82 may be optimistic, but Davis saw last season as a fluke.

“Last season, I had two injuries that you can’t really control. I mean, a guy fell into my knee, landed on the foot,” Davis said earlier at media day. “And the good thing for me is that the doctors after they looked at us, they could have been, like 10 times worse.”

Davis talked about his workout regimen, getting his body both rested and stronger for this long season, knowing more will be asked of him. New coach Darvin Ham wants to run more of the offense through Davis, but all the Lakers’ plans are moot if Davis and LeBron James are not healthy and on the court for at least 65 games this season.

“The focus of my game is being available…” LeBron said Monday. “Availability is the most important thing in his league and to be able to be available on the floor.”

Ham has to walk a line of pushing this team to defend better, show a toughness it lacked last season, and make the playoffs in a deep West while keeping his stars’ minutes under control. In a league all about recovery, the Lakers need to prioritize that, too.

“Just being efficient with how we practice, how we manage shootarounds, how we manage their minutes,” Ham said Monday. “I don’t need ‘Bron or Ad playing playoff minutes in October, November, December.”

It’s the first days of training camp, everyone is feeling good, everyone is rested, and everyone is optimistic. The real tests for the Lakers and Davis start in a few weeks — and just how much will the Lakers’ stars play.