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NBA considers playing finals in Las Vegas, report says

Updated March 26, 2020 - 8:50 pm

The NBA has plans to conclude its regular season, which has been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, at some point, and Las Vegas could be a location for a return-to-season tournament and the NBA Finals, according to a report from CNBC.

League executives and agents spoke with CNBC on a condition of anonymity, telling the outlet that the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas has emerged among league personnel as a prime location for the conclusion.

The NBA already has rented the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion from July 10-20 to host the annual Summer League.

Multiple people with connections to the Summer League and Thomas & Mack said the report is conjecture at this point, and that they haven’t yet heard of any plans to play games in Las Vegas or use the arena.

“It sounds like if (the idea) is one of five strategies, it makes sense,” one such person said. “Maybe we are the lesser of the evils, knowing you could bring everyone to one location. In their minds, maybe that’s an easier strategy.

“… If I’m the NBA, the cost of setting up one production, one television network, one set of satellite trucks (makes more sense) rather than if you have 16 teams — that’s (eight) different venues around the country they would have to be set up at with studios and broadcast time.”

The NBA suspended operations earlier this month, becoming the first American professional sports league to do so, after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. It theoretically could cancel the remainder of its regular season and use a play-in tournament to finalize its seeding, per the report.

The first round of the playoffs would be best of five, with the winners playing a single-elimination tournament to determine who would play in a best-of-five finals — perhaps during the period in which Summer League is scheduled. The Summer League already conducts its own playoff tournament during the final week of the event.

Other events were booked throughout the summer at NBA arenas, though many are postponed in wake of coronavirus and have not yet been rescheduled.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban repeatedly has said since the league’s shutdown that when the NBA returns to play it likely would be without fans — a pro basketball anomaly in which Las Vegas has experience.

The NBA has contested its annual G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas the last two years, holding games without fans at Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

Games were televised, and only essential team personnel were at the event — along with select family, friends and media — providing a sneak peek at what a possible tournament and NBA Finals games could entail.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter. Sports columnists Ed Graney and Ron Kantowski contributed to this report.

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