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NBA eager to restart talks with teams, players’ union on midseason tournament, sources say

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The NBA is eager to restart the conversation with its teams and the players’ association about adding a midseason tournament to the league’s calendar, sources told ESPN.

Commissioner Adam Silver, a proponent of the idea, has gained optimism that the success of the play-in tournament could drive momentum to reengage teams on another tournament idea that had been discussed before the pandemic, but never reached a vote of the board of governors, sources said.

The NBA has pushed to incorporate more competitive elements to the league’s calendar in recent years, including the play-in tourney, in-game coach’s challenges and All-Star Game changes like the player draft and scoring targets.

The NBA would need an agreement with the National Basketball Players Association and a two-thirds majority of its 30 teams to incorporate an in-season tournament plan. The league could start exploring the idea again with teams and the NBPA as soon as this year, sources said. It is too late for the league to consider the idea for the 2021-22 season.

Original midseason tournament proposals centered around a European soccer model event that would tie into the NBA’s traditional schedule. The league had discussed an eight-team single-elimination tournament that would be incentivized with $1 million per player payouts to the winning team, sources said. The NBA had discussed a scenario of pool play embedded into the regular-season schedule to determine those teams advancing into the single-elimination tournament.

Among the questions that the league likely still needs to address to teams: Could franchises be assured — especially those in big markets — that there wouldn’t be gate revenue losses by shortening the regular season to 78 games to accommodate the tournament? Some teams had been hesitant to incur short-term losses on potentially losing two home dates, especially when those games had been worth anywhere between $2.5 million and $4 million in pre-pandemic times.

Previous concerns among front-office executives had been that some star players on the league’s most lucrative contracts might prefer the several day scheduling break that would come with failing to qualify for the eight-team, single-elimination tournament, sources said. The buy-in of star players is telltale to achieving the league’s goals of impacting fan interest, television ratings and revenues. Nevertheless, the NBA’s optimism has remained buoyed on achieving that support, in part, because of how many elite players embraced the competitive nature of the Play-in Tournament and All-Star Game changes, sources said.

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Cleveland Cavaliers extend qualifying offer to Jarrett Allen

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CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers extended a qualifying offer Friday to center Jarrett Allen, making him a restricted free agent.

The team had until Aug. 1 to make the offer to Allen, a 23-year-old acquired last season in a trade from Brooklyn and viewed as one of Cleveland’s core pieces.

The Cavs can now match any offer given by other teams to Allen, whose size and athleticism at both ends of the floor makes him enticing.

General manager Koby Altman has expressed his hope to keep Allen in Cleveland long-term.

Allen, who played college ball at Texas, came to the Cavs as part of the blockbuster trade in January that sent star James Harden to the Nets.

Allen’s arrival pushed veteran Andre Drummond to the bench and eventually led to the team buying out the two-time All-Star center’s contract.

Allen averaged 13.2 points and 9.9 rebounds in 51 games — 40 starts — for Cleveland.

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Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday available for Team USA opener vs. France

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TOKYO — The trio of players making the unprecedented jump from the NBA Finals to the Olympics are all scheduled to be in Japan by Saturday.

The hope is for Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday to be available when Team USA opens play Sunday against France, according to coach Gregg Popovich.

After attending the Milwaukee Bucks‘ championship parade Thursday, Middleton and Holiday are scheduled to fly to Seattle on Friday. There, they will join Booker, whose Phoenix Suns they helped eliminate on Tuesday, and take a private plane to Tokyo.

The pivot from being opponents in the NBA playing for the highest stakes to teammates on the national team going for a gold medal has happened over the years but never this suddenly, making it one of the more awkward scenarios in Team USA’s already fascinating history of intersecting star players.

“I would say just understanding competition and that it’s never personal between who you’re going with, unless lines are crossed,” Booker said this week discussing going from foe to teammate with the Bucks’ players. “Those guys aren’t that type and I would never go that way with them, because there’s a high respect level for each other. Representing your country is a whole different dynamic than competing against each other in the NBA Finals, but I can always respect somebody that competes at the highest level.”

With the lengthy procedures for entry into Japan, it is unlikely the new arrivals will get much more than a light walk-through with the rest of Team USA, which has been in Japan since Tuesday. But with an expected tough test against the French, Popovich is planning on using his reinforcements immediately, even if he’s not sure how it will play out.

“I have no idea [how to use them]. I’m not trying to be glib. I’m trying to be transparent,” Popovich said. “Maybe they’ll be OK for the game [Sunday] and it’ll hit them two days later. Maybe we should play them in the first half and see what they’re like.”

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Los Angeles Lakers extend qualifying offer to guard Talen Horton-Tucker

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The Los Angeles Lakers made their first move in what promises to be a busy offseason by extending a qualifying offer to second-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker, the team announced Thursday.

The qualifying offer for Horton-Tucker is $1.9 million, according to ESPN front office insider Bobby Marks, and will make the 20 year old a restricted free agent, allowing the Lakers to match any outside offer to retain their former second-round pick.

Los Angeles has early Bird rights and can re-sign Horton-Tucker for a contract that projects to start at $10.4 million, according to Marks. The contract must last at least two seasons.

Horton-Tucker averaged 9.0 points on 45.8% shooting with 2.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.0 steals in more than 20 minutes per game last season.

The Iowa State product made strides in his second year in the league, memorably filling up the box score with 14 points, 11 assists and three steals in a road win over the Brooklyn Nets in April and played 13 games when he scored 15 points or more, during which the Lakers had an 8-5 record.

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