The NBA unveils a new, long-awaited $18 million per season tournament

By Isabel Baldwin for Dailymail.Com and the Associated Press

01:56 09 July 2023, updated 02:56 09 July 2023

The NBA revealed the details of its first tournament of the season, the NBA Cup, at the Summer League on Saturday.

The tournament will have a prize pool of around $18 million and will be capped by a championship game – which does not count towards the standings – in Las Vegas on December 9.

It’s an event that NBA commissioner Adam Silver has wanted for years, giving teams a trophy to play for in the regular season in a European Football Cup style, and now he’s made it a reality.

“This is a concept that has been rumbling around the league office for about 15 years,” Silver said.

‘It is not a new concept in sports. For those who follow international football in particular, it’s a long tradition to have tournaments in the season … so we thought what a perfect opportunity for a global league like the NBA and it fits our game perfectly.’

The NBA unveiled its first season tournament (pictured Commissioner Adam Silver)

The tournament payouts for players on standard contracts will be $500,000 each for those on the winning team, $200,000 each for those in second place, $100,000 each for those on the teams that lose semi-final matches and $50,000 for those on the teams that lose in the quarter-finals.

Two-way players on one of those teams are eligible for up to half of those amounts, depending on how many games they spend on a roster during the tournament.

“I can see what the goal could be,” said Miami guard Josh Richardson, who follows global soccer closely and understands the parallels Silver is making when comparing it to seasonal tournaments that sports have around the world. ‘It gives you another chance to win something, really. I think that’s a big part.’

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With the announcement of the tournament, the NBA also revealed the six five-team groups – three for each conference – that will make up the group stage of the competition.

The teams play a match against each other in the group stage, with the six group winners advancing to the quarter-finals and the two best second-placed teams from the groups.


West Group A – Memphis, Phoenix, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah and Portland.

West Group B – Denver, 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.

To form the groups, the NBA used a FIFA World Cup-style draw, dividing each conference into five pools according to last season’s standings.

Pot One featured the teams that finished first through third, followed by teams four-six in Pot Two, teams seven-nine in Pot Three, teams 10-12 in Pot Four, and teams 13-15 in Pot Five.

One team was then randomly selected from each pool to create what would be five evenly matched groups.

“I’m excited for this midseason tournament,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. ‘I think it will add an element of energy and excitement for the players and the coaches and the fans. I think it’s a good idea’.

The games start on November 3rd and are played mostly on Tuesdays and Fridays in November – except for November 7th, when the NBA does not play any games to celebrate Election Day. This announcement came Saturday and will mark the second year in a row that the NBA has no games on that date, with hopes of promoting civic awareness and engagement.

The Final Four takes place in Las Vegas.

“This city knows how to host big events,” Silver said.

Joe Dumars, the league’s vice president of basketball operations and a Hall of Famer as a player, said he thinks the players will like the idea — even if it takes some time.

“Not everyone will buy in right away,” Dumars said. ‘It cannot be the goal that everyone should buy in from day 1. These things take time. And I think that as time goes on, you can build this up and people can really get into it.’

Tournament games, other than the championship game, will all count in the standings — much in the same way the WNBA runs its Commissioner’s Cup event.

It has been known for some time that teams will only get an 80-game schedule when the 2023-24 slate is released by the NBA in the coming weeks.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr claimed the contest would add an “element of energy”
After finishing atop the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets were added to Pot One

Games 81 and 82 will be added in December; this is where things get tricky.

Teams that do not reach the knockout stage will be awarded two matches against other non-knockout qualifiers and these will be the two missing matches on their schedule.

For the eight teams that reach the knockout stage, the quarter-final match will be the 81st match added to their schedule. The quarterfinal losers — two from the East, two from the West — will play each other in what will be the 82nd game on their schedule. Semifinalists — again, two from the East, two from the West — will play, and that game will be the 82nd game on their schedule.

That means the championship game will be one of 83 games on the schedule for the last two teams standing. And since the season is 82 games, that game won’t count in the standings, nor will the stats count for anything. They want to play for money and the trophy.

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