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NBA considering Las Vegas for possible in-season tourney

Although NBA commissioner Adam Silver says expansion to Las Vegas isn’t imminent, the league still could increase its presence in Southern Nevada.

Silver said the NBA will look to Las Vegas as a landing spot for various events it hosts throughout the year.

One of those events could be the in-season tournament that is being strongly considered by league officials.

The tournament would likely include all 30 teams and could begin as soon as the 2023-24 NBA season.

From there the top eight teams would move on to a single-elimination round, with the top four from that meeting for the title.

“One of the formats we’re looking at for the in-season tournament is a potential final four on a neutral site,” Silver told the Review-Journal. “No question we would look at Las Vegas as a potential destination.”

Las Vegas is no stranger to NBA events taking place in the city. In the 1983-84 NBA season, the Utah Jazz utilized the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV for 11 regular-season games. Several NBA and Olympic basketball exhibition games have occurred in Southern Nevada, and the 2007 NBA All-Star game occurred at the Thomas & Mack as well.

On Thursday, the NBA and WNBA announced Las Vegas was one of 11 cities included in their launch of a junior youth basketball league beginning this fall.

The one mainstay league event, the NBA Summer League, is held annually in Las Vegas at UNLV and has grown from a small event to the premier league event of the summer. All 30 teams are represented during the 10-day event where rookies, unproven players and veterans look to make an NBA roster.

This year the impact of the event is huge for the city, with Silver noting an expected economic impact of $125 million, with more than 135,000 people expected to attend games over the 10 days.

Although the league has all of its teams included in the summer league, Silver said it can get even bigger.

“I think one way to grow it larger would be to create a tournament that also includes more international teams,” Silver said. “Las Vegas is a global destination and one of the areas of growth for us, in addition to streaming digital media, is international. The ability to bring over more top-notch clubs and weave them into summer league format.”

Silver will also lean on Warren LeGarie and Albert Hall, summer league organizers, to provide input in other ways the event can evolve.

Whatever ends up being the desired change, Silver doesn’t want to lose sight of the purpose of the summer league.

“It’s always a balance. We want to make sure that the 30 NBA teams here get the needed time on the floor, particularly with their young players, where they’re working them out. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do some business development here as well with some international teams.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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