As the NBA considers its options for how and when to resume the 2019/20 season, multiple team executives tell Jabari Young of CNBC that they favor the idea of playing games in Las Vegas.
In a perfect world, each club would be able to host games at its own home arena with fans in attendance. However, playing games at a neutral site – and behind closed doors – may end up being a more realistic solution for containment and health reasons as the NBA navigates the coronavirus pandemic.
As Young explains, Vegas makes sense as a neutral site because the NBA has an existing relationship with the city, which hosts Summer League games at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion each July.
Sources tell Young that the NBA has previously “floated the idea” of using Las Vegas as the location for an in-season tournament, which is something commissioner Adam Silver hopes to add to the league’s annual schedule in the coming years. Young points out that a resumed 2019/20 season may be an ideal time to test out that sort of event at a neutral site — the NBA could use a play-in tournament to fill the lower postseason seeds rather than playing out the remainder of its regular season.
The NBA remains in the early stages of the planning process and will, of course, have to adjust and react based on how the coronavirus situation evolves across North America. However, as we’ve heard before, the league is considering a wide range of experimental ideas as it looks to salvage the 2020 postseason.
According to Young, one concept the league has discussed is playing best-of-five first round series followed by a one-and-done tournament which would determine the two teams that square off in the NBA Finals. The Finals would then be a best-of-five series as well, Young notes.