The Golden State Warriors didn’t get a trophy after winning last year’s NBA Summer League in Las Vegas with a 5-0 record. But if the Warriors can repeat this July, there will be hardware to cart back to Oakland.
The NBA officially announced Wednesday the establishment of a championship tournament for this year’s summer league, which begins July 12 at Cox Pavilion and the Thomas & Mack Center. All participating teams will play three games, then will be seeded in a single-elimination format with the championship game to be played on Monday night, July 22 in the Thomas & Mack.
Regardless of whether they make the playoffs, which run from July 20-22, each team is guaranteed a minimum of five games during the 11-day run in Las Vegas.
Warren LeGarie, the summer league’s founder and who currently oversees the running of the league for the NBA, said the change wasn’t just to shake things up and make it more interesting for the fans.
“We don’t want to be too pretentious and think we know more than the general managers but I believe you will see players being tested more in this kind of setting where it’s competitive and there’s something at stake,” LeGarie said Wednesday. “I think it helps in evaluating a player to see how he performs in a competitive environment.”
Last year’s summer league, which had 24 teams, attracted a record 51,000 fans over its 10-day run. NBA TV televised 38 of the 60 games live, and part of the format change is an effort to boost ratings.
“I think by having a better product with more competitive games it’ll make for better television,” LeGarie said. “We want to make it fresh for the fans who show up and the fans who tune in and we think it’ll be a positive change.”
Albert Hall, the summer league’s vice president of business operations, said having something to play for should make for more competitive games.
“It always adds a little more excitement for the fans when there’s something on the line,” Hall said. “For teams like Charlotte or New Orleans, winning a secondary championship can give them some positive momentum heading into training camp in the fall.”
Legarie said the final roster of participants is being worked on and should be set in the next couple of weeks. He said it could be 24 or 22 teams depending how things shake out.
“Twenty-four is the optimum number,” he said. “We’re just waiting on a couple of teams to hear what their plans are.”
Tickets for this year’s summer league, which will be priced at $25 for adults and $15 for children 16 and under per session, go on sale June 1 at the Thomas & Mack box office and through UNLVTickets.com.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.