Friday, February 23 2024
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This is the inaugural year of the NBA’s In-Season Tournament, and so far the concept has brought excitement to what is usually a less-watched part of the season. As the semifinals are getting ready to tip off in Las Vegas, players are already thinking of what the tournament could look like in the future.

“I would like to see better designs for the courts, that’s one thing.” Milwaukee Bucks point guard Damian Lillard said, before taking a second to think about other ideas.

“I’m not sure right now what else I would change. I think the format is pretty solid. I think it’s something that was well thought out. There is not much that I would change out of the top of my head… The only thing that I would think of is just the prize, what can we do to up the prize?”

Lillard was asked what he meant by upping the prize, and he had an answer to that question right away.

“Money. I mean, that’s how you’re going to get people to (work harder), sweeten the pot,” he said. 

The tournament already has a cash incentive for players — and some are already planning on how to spend it. Each member of the winning team gets $500,000, while runner-ups receive $200,000. Those participating in the semifinals have already earned $100,000. Although Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner says the money is a great incentive, he would like to see the in-season tournament have some lasting impact for when the playoffs roll around in April.

“To have more impact in the season itself,” Turner said. “Obviously, it’s early, but for teams that have playoff hopes or whatnot, I’m not saying like an automatic playoff bid…maybe if you win this tournament, no matter what, you get the automatic tiebreaker. Or something that has to do more with your record. Not just monetary incentive. I think that would be dope.”

Turner also said the trip to Vegas was an easy one, and he is certainly not the only fan of the location. New Orleans Pelicans CJ McCollum likes Vegas as a repeat location for it and suggested the city of Miami as another potential host. 

Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton brought up the idea of having more teams compete in Vegas next year, mostly because he felt the point differential that served as a tiebreaker for group play was confusing.

“Just to avoid the tiebreaker kind of mess that was going on,” he said. “Everybody was like, ‘If who wins what happens?’ Maybe playing a couple more games, maybe outside of your group in the other conference. Something like that, just play more games to have different scenarios with tiebreakers and make it make a little more sense. I’m curious to see what it looks like next year for sure.”

As for what happens when you win, the reviews were mixed regarding whether or not winning the in-season tournament should be celebrated with a banner.

“I think at this point in my career, because I haven’t done anything yet, I’ll take a banner,” Haliburton said. “I’m sure LeBron would not answer the same way.”

Meanwhile, four-time NBA champion LeBron James didn’t seem to have a strong opinion on the banners.

“That’s up to the league, I don’t have an answer for that,” he said.

James added that he needs more time to brainstorm what he wants to see in next year’s In-Season Tournament. 

“If I had some time to think about it, I might have a better answer,” he said.

As for Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks star didn’t have a specific answer either, but it was because he was already happy with what he was seeing.

“Nothing, I enjoyed the process,” he said. “… If it was just a regular season game, who would’ve cared? I think it brings more attention to our game. I didn’t think there is anything to tweak. I think it’s great so far. “

Source: CBSSports.com

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