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Report: NBA considering $1 million per player prize for in-season tournament

The NBA is considering offering a $1 million per player prize to the winners of a potential in-season tournament. (AP/Rick Bowmer)

After floating ideas to make a potential midseason tournament work in the NBA, the league appears to have an incentive in mind to entice players to participate.

The NBA is discussing a $1 million per player purse for the winners of the proposed league-wide in-season tournament, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The tournament, which league officials started seriously considering this fall, wouldn’t be implemented until the 2021-22 season at the earliest.

According to Wojnarowski, the league wants the tournament to start with pool-play that is part of the regular season schedule. Then, teams with the best records will advance to an eight-team single-elimination tournament that would finish in mid-December.

Teams not making the eight-team field would then get a five-day break — something many fear some stars would actually prefer rather than competing in the tournament. 

A mid-season tournament would be a fun experience for basketball fans everywhere, and would undoubtedly generate millions of dollars for the league. Convincing players to participate, however, appears to have been an issue.

The NBA has floated incentives to encourage a competitive tournament this fall, even considering gifting the winning team an extra draft pick, among other things. Teams are also reportedly reluctant to give up two home games to accommodate the tournament, which could result in millions of dollars in losses.

The NBA is still considering adding a postseason play-in round, too, which more teams appear to be in favor of, according to Wojnarowski. Both the playoff play-in round and mid-season tournament would end up reducing the regular season from 82 games to 78 or 79 games, per the report. Some, however, could end up playing as many as 83 games depending on certain scenarios.

While it sounds like a cool idea on the surface, the tournament hasn’t gone over well with everyone inside the league.

“You fight for an NBA championship. I don’t want to play for anything else,” Rockets forward P.J. Tucker said earlier this month. “Like, what else is there? There’s nothing else. It’s like a consolation or something? I don’t know? You play in games to win a championship. Period.”

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