NBA unveils new, long-awaited $18million in-season tournament
The NBA revealed details of its inaugural season tournament, the NBA Cup, during Summer League Saturday.
The tournament has a prize pool of approximately $18 million and will conclude with a championship match – which will not count towards the standings – in Las Vegas on December 9.
It’s an event that NBA commissioner Adam Silver has longed for years, giving teams a trophy to play in a European soccer cup-like competition during the regular season, and now he’s made it a reality.
“This is a concept that has been rumbling around the League office for about 15 years,” Silver said.
It’s not a new concept in sports. For those who mainly follow international football, it’s a long tradition to have tournaments in season… so we thought: what a perfect opportunity for a global league like the NBA and it fits our game perfectly.’
The NBA unveiled its inaugural season tournament (photo Commissioner Adam Silver)
The tournament payouts for players on standard contracts are $500,000 each for those on the winning team, $200,000 each for those in second place, $100,000 each for those on the teams losing semifinals, and $50,000 for those of the teams that lose in the quarter-finals.
Two-way players from each of those teams will be eligible for up to half those amounts, depending on how many games they spend on a squad during the tournament.
“I can see what the goal could be,” said Miami guard Josh Richardson, who closely follows global football and understands the parallels Silver makes when he compares it to in-season tournaments that sport has around the world. . “It gives you another chance to really win something. I think that’s a big part.’
With the announcement of the tournament, the NBA also announced the six groups of five teams — three for each conference — that will make up the league’s group stage.
The teams play one match against each other in the group stage, with the six group winners making it to the quarter-finals as well as the two best second teams from the groups.
NBA CUP GROUPS
West Group A – Memphis, Phoenix, the Los Angeles Lakers, Utah and Portland.
West Group B – Denver, the Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans, Dallas and Houston.
West Group C – Sacramento, Golden State, Minnesota, Oklahoma City, and San Antonio.
East Group A – Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, Indiana, and Detroit.
East Group B – Milwaukee, New York, Miami, Washington and Charlotte.
East Group C – Boston, Brooklyn, Toronto, Chicago and Orlando.
To form the groups, the NBA used a FIFA World Cup-style draw and divided each conference into five pots, according to last season’s standings.
Pot One featured the teams that finished first through third, followed by teams four-six in Pot Two, teams seven-nine in Pot Three, teams 10-12 in Pot Four, and teams 13-15 in Pot Five.
One team was then randomly selected from each pot to create five evenly matched groups.
“I’m excited about this midseason tournament,” said Golden State coach Steve Kerr. “I think it’s going to add an element of energy and excitement for the players and coaches and the fans. I think it’s a good idea.’
Games begin on November 3 and are usually played on Tuesdays and Fridays in November—except November 7, when the NBA does not play games to commemorate Election Day. That announcement came Saturday, marking the second straight year in which the NBA has no games on that date in hopes of promoting civic awareness and engagement.
The Final Four will take place in Las Vegas.
“This city knows how to host big events,” Silver said.
Joe Dumars, the league’s executive vice president of basketball operations and a Hall of Famer as a player, said he thinks players will like the idea — even if it takes some time.
“Everyone is not going to buy right away,” said Dumars. ‘That cannot be the goal, that everyone buys in from day 1. These things take time. And I think you can build this over time and people can really get into it.”
Tournament matches, except for the championship game, all count towards the standings – just as the WNBA hosts its Commissioner’s Cup event.
It has been known for some time that teams will only get an 80-game schedule when the 2023/24 list is released by the NBA in the coming weeks.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr claimed the game would add an “element of energy.”
After finishing top of the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets were added to Pot One
Games 81 and 82 will be added in December; this is where things get tricky.
Teams that fail to make it to the Knockout Stage will be allocated two games against other non-knockout qualifiers, and those will be the two games missing from their schedule.
For the eight teams that make it to the knockout stage, the quarter-final will be the 81st game added to their schedule. The losers of the quarterfinals – two from the east, two from the west – will play against each other in their 82nd game. Semifinalists – again two from the East, two from the West – will play, and that game will be the 82nd game on their schedule.
That means the championship game will be one of 83 games scheduled for the last two teams remaining. And since the season has 82 games, that game doesn’t count in the standings, nor do the stats count. They play for money and the trophy.