The NBA Summer League — the NBA’s annual introduction to rookies and informal convention — was among the many things lost to the pandemic in 2020 (and it’s not high on the list of important things lost). The event has spiked in popularity in recent years and become a moneymaker for the league, but there was no way for the league to put it on last July.
The NBA is also working toward resumption of its annual Summer League in Las Vegas sometime in early to mid-August, though specifics are still being ironed out, sources told ESPN.
How many fans might be in the arena — and any restrictions along those lines — are among the things to be worked out.
The event draws all 30 teams to Las Vegas for games with teams made up of just-drafted rookies, second-year players, players on the fringes of the league, players trying to impress scouts to land a good spot overseas, and a few veterans trying to work their way back into the league.
However, the games — all televised on NBA TV and ESPN — are almost secondary to the convention it has become for the NBA. Representatives from every front office (including most GMs), plus many head coaches, agents, players, and media members, converge on the city to talk shop, forge relationships, and have a couple of dinners and drinks mixed in. The event has grown to the point that when a big star plays — Zion Williamson a couple of years ago, for example, Lonzo Ball for the Lakers before that — fans fill the 18,000-seat Thomas and Mack Center on the UNLV campus.
If — as we all hope (*knocks on wood*) — things are returning to “normal” by late summer, there is no reason for the NBA not to have the event. It would be part of a condensed timeline as the NBA moves on to start the 2021-22 season in October, returning to a traditional schedule and timeline.