The NBA Lockout has been in effect for over two months now, and as of this moment there is very little optimism on either side that the chasm that is keeping a new NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement from being ratified will close any time soon. However, fans of the Association will get a chance starting Monday September 12, will get a chance to see two weeks of NBA caliber play as the “New York Times” has reported that the Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series will take place in Las Vegas. Unlike the annual Las Vegas League Summer Games which are sanctioned by the NBA; these games will feature some very familiar names such as New York Knicks veteran point guard Chauncey Billups and Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph.
The series is the brainchild of veteran trainer Joe Abunassar who has worked with many NBA players throughout his career. Abunassar told the paper that the idea of the series is to help players get into shape by playing against other players from the Association. He said “This is an effort on our part to get these guys as ready for training camp as they can get, without going to training camp. That’s the allure of it. The way we’re going to play; with all the N.B.A. guys, with a lot of intensity, with not making it a circus, so to speak. These guys are here to get the best basketball they’ve gotten.”
The Las Vegas Summer League usually is composed of rookies, players going into their second year in the Association who are looking for more seasoning during the off-season as well as participants that may never play in the NBA. These games will be filled with well-known players such as OKC Thunder guard Eric Maynor, Los Angeles Clippers guard Mo Williams and his teammate Deandre Jordan and will also include Stephen Jackson now with the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics center Jermaine O’Neal who is coming off an injury.
Sacramento Kings forward J.J. Hickson, John Wall from the Wizards, Al Harrington from the Nuggets and Jared Dudley from Phoenix have also already committed to playing in the series. The games will be held at the Impact Basketball training facility, and they are hoping to have enough players sign on to comprise an eight team competition with seven to eight players on each squad.
Abunassar is hoping to sell about 500 tickets per game; giving the proceeds to charity and would like to stream the games on the Internet. The Championship game would be held on September 23. Abunassar told the paper that if this series is successful, then he will set up another tournament for two weeks in October if the work-stoppage is still in effect. He would do the same in November if the two sides have not reached an agreement by then.