NBA commissioner Adam Silver wants an in-season tournament.
The problem: Few others share his enthusiasm.
So, the league is trying to find ways to build interest. An old idea has apparently returned to the conversation: Paying players on the winning team.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
The NBA is discussing having an in-season tournament in future seasons, with $1 million per player in prize money, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. The concept was discussed on a Competition Committee call today.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 13, 2021
The same issues remain from when this was discussed two years ago:
That will motivate low-end players, some of whom could nearly double their income.
The stars who largely drive whether their teams win? That’s a tougher sell. Though they’d all welcome an extra $1 million, some might prefer resting rather than playing extra tournament games … Not chasing the money is also a way for them to look cool and powerful.
Maybe peer pressure from lower-paid teammates would push stars to compete. But this policy would be far from a silver bullet.
And where would this $13 million-$17 million (depending on roster size) come from? Would that lower players’ regular compensation?
Play-in tournaments are a huge success, in part, because they tie directly to the title chase. Teams advance through the play-in tournaments to the playoffs, where championships are determined.
An in-season tournament where the only incentive is extra money for players wouldn’t have that link to the title chase.
It’s tough to get American fans excited about that type of side quest. Many of them don’t care whether players earn an extra $1 million. And if fans aren’t watching, it’s not worth paying the players that money.