NBA players training in Vegas plan to start organized league


The natives are getting restless at Impact Basketball.

With the NBA lockout about to head into its third month, the 30 or so players who work out daily at the facility on East Sunset Road are trying to spice things up. Final plans are being made to hold an organized summer league Sept. 12 to 24 in Las Vegas at Impact Basketball that would feature NBA veterans and a few rookies.

"I wanted to do something for these guys during the lockout," said Joe Abunassar, the founder and president of Impact Basketball. "Someone suggested we form a league and play games, and we're sort of doing that now with our daily pickup games.

"We're probably looking at 60 guys participating. I know Chauncey Billups wants to play. Rudy Gay, John Wall, Al Harrington and Mo Williams said they'll play. We're hoping to get Blake Griffin. It will be very competitive."

Abunassar said the official name of the league is the "Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series."

"Basically, what we're doing is an extension of our daily routine," Abunassar said. "Guys will come in during the morning and do their regular workout. Then, around 2 p.m., we'll start the games."

The plan is for eight teams of seven to eight players playing four games a day in a two-week period. The format would be a round of pool play the first week, followed by playoffs in Week 2 and a championship game Sept. 24.

Games would be played under the modified rules the NBA Summer League has used for years, meaning 10-minute quarters. The teams will be formed via a draft, and the players essentially will coach themselves, though Abunassar's staff would help in that area. Abunassar wasn't sure who would officiate the games.

Abunassar said the public would be able to watch and that the NBA will not be involved in any aspect. He wasn't sure if admission would be charged and, if so, how much. The Impact Basketball facility has seating for about 1,000.

"We're still working on finalizing all the details," he said. "We've talked to the (NBA) Players Association to make sure the players are covered insurance-wise. Nobody is getting paid to play. ... We're hoping by Friday we'll have everything worked out."

Abunassar said injuries always are the biggest concern when undertaking a venture such as this, and he said anytime a player steps onto the court to work out, he runs the risk of getting hurt.

"You're always worried about it," he said. "But there are players playing pickup ball all over the country. I think guys are just trying to stay in shape and have something to do. Hopefully no one will get seriously hurt."

With the NBA and the players scheduled to meet today in New York for only the second time since the lockout began July 1, and training camps tentatively scheduled to open in a month, Abunassar said his guys need something to motivate them.

"I don't think (the lockout) is ending anytime soon," he said. "But the players are excited about this (league). Let's face it, they don't have much to be excited about right now."

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

 

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