The NBA’s long-reported plans for an in-season tournament will be realized in the 2023–2024 regular season with the semifinals and finals of the event scheduled for December 7-9, 2023, in Las Vegas.
The exact dates for the tournament’s Las Vegas residency were reported by ESPN on Wednesday. The news breaks as Las Vegas prepares to host NBA Summer League games and the highly anticipated debut of Victor Wembanyama, as well as the inaugural NBA Con July 7–9.
The idea of an in-season tournament has been strongly supported in the past two seasons by Commissioner Adam Silver. The NBA unveiled more details Saturday of the in-season tournament, which will have a prize pool of about $18 million and will be capped by a championship game — which won’t count in the standings — in at T-Mobile Arena. The tournament payouts for players on standard contracts will be $500,000 apiece for those on the winning team, $200,000 apiece for those on the runner-up, $100,000 apiece for those on the teams that lose semifinal games and $50,000 for those on the teams that lose in the quarterfinals.
Games will start on Nov. 3, being played mostly on Tuesdays and Fridays in November — except for Nov. 7, when the NBA will play no games to commemorate Election Day. That announcement came Saturday, and will mark the second consecutive year when the NBA has no games on that date with hopes of promoting civic awareness and engagement.
Teams were assigned to a five-team group. They’ll play one game against each other; the six group winners will make the quarterfinals, as will the best two second-place teams from the groups. They were chosen as follows:
- West Group A — Memphis, Phoenix, the Los Angeles Lakers, Utah and Portland.
- West Group B — Denver, the Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans, Dallas and Houston.
- West Group C — Sacramento, Golden State, Minnesota, Oklahoma City and San Antonio.
- East Group A — Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, Indiana and Detroit.
- East Group B — Milwaukee, New York, Miami, Washington and Charlotte.
- East Group C — Boston, Brooklyn, Toronto, Chicago and Orlando.
Tournament games, except for the championship game, will all count in the standings — much in the same way that the WNBA runs its Commissioner’s Cup event, which designates certain regular season games that count toward the Commissioner’s Cup standings with a championship game held in the middle of the season.
It’s been known for some time that NBA teams will be getting only an 80-game schedule when the 2023-24 slate is released by the NBA in the coming weeks. Games 81 and 82 will be added in December; this is where things get tricky. Teams that don’t make the knockout stage will be assigned two games against other non-knockout qualifiers, and those will be the missing two games on their schedules.
For the eight teams that make the knockout stage, the quarterfinal game becomes the 81st game added to their schedule. Quarterfinal losers — two from the East, two from the West — will play each other, and that’ll be the 82nd game on their schedules. Semifinalists — again, two from the East, two from the West — will play, and that game becomes the 82nd game on their schedules.
“I’m excited about this midseason tournament,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “I think it’s going to add an element of energy and excitement for the players and coaches and the fans. I think it’s a great idea.”