Silver: NBA still mulling in-season tourney but needs players to buy in
NBA commissioner Adam Silver says the league is still interested in implementing a soccer-style in-season tournament but faces at least one significant obstacle before overhauling the regular-season calendar: support from the players themselves.
"We have a fair amount of work still to do on it - and a lot of convincing to do. I know that for some of the players I've talked to directly, they have trouble envisioning the benefit of another form of competition when they're so focused on the Larry O'Brien Trophy and don't necessarily see us being able to create a new tradition."
Still, Silver pointed to the success of the WNBA's inaugural Commissioner's Cup, where specific early-season games contributed to a separate leaderboard. The conference-leading Seattle Storm and Connecticut Sun ultimately met in August for a one-game clash, where the victorious Storm players received a larger cut of a $500,000 prize pool.
In other structural news, Silver said that in light of the impacts of the pandemic, the NBA must "be back operating on all cylinders" before having any serious talks about expansion beyond the current field of 30 franchises.
Specifically, Silver acknowledged the inroads made in Seattle, where the SuperSonics existed from 1967 until their relocation to become the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008. The city's recently renovated Climate Pledge Arena is currently home to the WNBA's Storm and the National Hockey League's Seattle Kraken, who began their inaugural season this month.
"I don't think there's any doubt that at some point we'll take a very serious look at potential expansion," Silver said, "and as I've said before, Seattle is one of those cities that we have our eye on. ... But it's premature to get more specific than that."