NBA in Las Vegas
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Report: NBA could hold play-in tournament, shortened playoffs in Las Vegas

Leave a comment

The NBA is reportedly committed to finishing this season, which is currently paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What structure will the rest of the season take? That’s a difficult question.

But apparently momentum is building for centralizing play in Las Vegas.

Jabari Young of CNBC:

Las Vegas has emerged as the best location to resume the season, according to league executives.

The NBA could decide to cancel the remainder of its regular season and create a play-in tournament for lower-seeded teams to enter the postseason. The league could then set up a best-of-five series for the first round, before moving to a one-and-done tournament to determine the two teams that will play in the NBA Finals, which would also be a best-of-five, people familiar with the planning said.

The tournament and NBA Finals would be held in Las Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion, where the league hosts its annual Summer League events.

This leads to several questions:

  • Can the NBA keep players and everyone else involved from contracting coronavirus? If COVID-19 infiltrates this operation, it’d undermine everything.
  • Could fans attend these games? Significant gate revenue is being left on the table. Fans could theoretically have their temperature checked as they enter. However, presumably, these games would be held in smaller arenas only because fans wouldn’t be present.
  • How would fans feel about, not only an abridged postseason, but a strangely structured one? The series going best-of-five, best-of-one, best-of-one, best-of-five is not a natural progression. Making the Finals – the most meaningful series – longer is logical. Presumably, the first round would be longer because that’s the round with the most series. It’d be a way to increase revenue.
  • What type of shape would players be in? LeBron James warned against jumping straight into the playoffs without a regular season to tune up.
  • What would happen with local-TV contracts? Those are a big reason to finish the regular season.
  • How would a play-in tournament affect the draft order? At least the league, pushing for a permanent play-in tournament, has already considered that. But this situation would come with the added wrinkle of a canceled finish to the regular season, teams playing a varying number of games.
  • How would owners and players split revenue of the entire season? Canceling the rest of the regular season would seemingly allow the league to invoke force majeure and reduce salaries. But this new structure – along with everything else – would have to be negotiated by owners and players.

That’s a lot to answer. Still, this might be the best option.

There’s an obvious appeal to finishing the season in a centralized location. It’s probably the fastest way to resume play – and generate quick cash.

Extending the season longer could interrupt future seasons. It might be better to milk whatever revenue is possible from this cursed season and just move on.

An abbreviated postseason at a neutral site is nobody’s ideal. But that it’s even a possibility shows how dire this situation has gotten.

Report: No second bubble, scrimmages or practices for other eight NBA teams

Bulls guard Coby White vs. Hawks
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The on-again, off-again idea of a second bubble? The on-again, off-again idea of the eight NBA teams not continuing at Disney World even scrimmaging or practicing?

It’s all looking unlikely.

Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic:

There is growing belief among the NBA’s eight franchises not in Orlando that a second bubble site being built for minicamps and intrasquad scrimmages will not happen, sources tell The Athletic. There is pessimism about in-market minicamps for group workouts happening as well.

“There’s nothing happening,” one GM told The Athletic after a Tuesday call between the eight GMs and league officials. “It’s a shame. It’s a huge detriment to these eight franchises that were left behind.”

I’m so sick of some of these eight teams whining. They’re not playing because they weren’t good enough to qualify for the resumption. Deal with it. Every year, some teams get eliminated before others. This is different in degree, not kind.

Besides, are these eight teams watching the high level of play in the bubble? After a long layoff, teams look energetic and fresh. Long offseasons could give the eight eliminated teams an advantage next season.

Playing basketball safely amid the coronavirus pandemic is costly – both in terms of operational expenses and lifestyle sacrifices for participants. It’s worthwhile for the continuing 22 teams because the revenue being produced by the resumption.

That wouldn’t necessarily be the case for the other eight teams. Maybe there’s value in fulfilling local TV contracts, but the remaining games are a poor product. Scrimmages and practices would be even less marketable. Impending free agents especially have little reason to care about continuing.

I understand why many of the eight teams want to do something. But it’s probably just not worth it.

Memphis’ Jaren Jackson Jr. out for season with torn left meniscus

Jaren Jackson torn meniscus
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jaren Jackson Jr. scored 22 points and was the best Grizzlies player against the Pelicans on Monday night, showing off his athleticism and touch from three.

He also tore the meniscus in his left knee during the game, the Grizzlies announced Tuesday.

Even with the short offseason, Jackson should be ready to play at the start of next season.

This is a serious blow to the Grizzlies, who are 0-3 in the bubble and now just lost their best player through those three games. He has been the best source of offense for the Grizzlies in the bubble, feasting on defenders who cannot match his speed.

Jackson, a 6’11” big out of Michigan State, averaged 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds a game this season, shooting 39.4% from three. He’s still developing, but he looks like a classic modern big — can protect the rim, can post up or make plays from the elbow, and can shoot the three — who is developing a strong chemistry with Ja Morant. They could be the cornerstones of the Grizzlies’ future.

First, Jackson has to get healthy.

Watch Devin Booker drain turnaround game-winner to beat Clippers

Leave a comment

Devin Booker is a serious problem.

The Suns All-Star guard scored his 34th and 35th points of the night on a turnaround game-winner at the buzzer= over Paul George — who defended him well. He called game.

Ivica Zubac opened the door for Booker to win it. The Suns had the ball with 31 seconds to go and the Clippers — Kawhi Leonard in particular — defended it well, forcing Ricky Rubio into a difficult, high-arcing shot he missed. Zubac did a good job grabbing the rebound, but then he hurried the outlet pass and Mikal Bridges tipped it, Deandre Ayton grabbed it, and the Suns got to reset and take one more shot.

Devin Booker took the final shot, a game-winner. That man is a problem.

The bubble Suns are now 3-0.

As 19-point underdogs, Nets top Bucks in biggest NBA upset since 1993

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nets big Donta Hall
Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Nets looked like one of NBA’s the worst continuing teams. They were underwhelming during the regular season, and their roster was decimated entering seeding games. Brooklyn had even more absences against the Bucks today.

No Caris LeVert. No Joe Harris. No Jarrett Allen.

But despite entering the game as 19-point underdogs, the Nets upset the Bucks, 119-116.

David Purdum of ESPN:

Obviously, Milwaukee is way better than Brooklyn overall. But the Bucks didn’t have much incentive to chase a victory. They’ve already all but clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Starters Brook Lopez and Wesley Matthews didn’t play. Stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton didn’t play in the second half.

That created an opening for the Nets, who blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead then rallied to win.

What they lacked in talent, both teams made up for in effort – and feistiness.

Antetokounmpo was restrained from Brooklyn big Donta Hall after getting knocked down during a second-quarter tussle for a rebound:

That stood out in an eventful game for the Nets.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot led Brooklyn with 26 points. Jamal Crawford looked assertive early, but he left the game with a hamstring injury. And Jacque Vaughn got what could be considered a signature victory if the Nets were already favoring keeping him as coach.

Should anyone overreact to a game played under these conditions? No. But for a Brooklyn team overmatched in the bubble, this was at least a feel-good – and historic – moment.