Midseason NBA tournament gaining momentum
NBA commissioner Adam Silver before the game between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers at Chase Center. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Midseason NBA tournament gaining momentum

There are whispers again that the NBA is investigating the possibility of adding a midseason tournament. Only this time, it seems like a foregone conclusion. 

NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports that the NBA is "making progress" on implementing the tournament.

"All of those discussions are positive," Tatum said. "There's a lot of stakeholders, logistics that would have to be taken care of, but I feel we are taking all the right steps, all the right feedback."

Tatum foresees an "NCAA tournament-style" format, including a yet-to-be-determined incentive for players of the winning team. He says he's optimistic that the league will be able to create an event that will not only excite fans but encourage players to want to compete. 

Last August, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Competition Committee addressed the concept of a midseason tournament and discussed offering a $1 million prize for each player on the winning team. 

With the NBA's television deal up following the 2023-2024 season, the league aims to use the tournament as a possible bargaining chip. Last March, CNBC's Jabari Young reported that the NBA sought a $75 billion deal from Turner Sports and ESPN, a significant increase from its current nine-year, $24 million contract, which began at the start of the 2016-2017 season. 

The idea of an in-season tournament, separate from the postseason, first surfaced in 2019. The NBA revisited the idea in 2021 following the COVID-19-shortened season. Initially, the plan was for a European soccer-style single-elimination event featuring eight teams. It's unclear if the NBA still has that format in mind.

Regardless of the league's plans, a midseason tournament still needs to be approved by the NBA Players Association and the Board of Governors.

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