Las Vegas Rumors

For the first time in over three months, NBA point spreads are back on the board at Las Vegas sportsbooks, but oddsmakers admit they’re not sure what to expect when the league attempts to resume its season amid the coronavirus pandemic. The line on the LA Clippers-Los Angeles Lakers game — the second half of an opening doubleheader July 30 — opened at pick ’em Saturday at Caesars Sportsbook. The New Orleans Pelicans are 1-point favorites over the Utah Jazz in the first game of the doubleheader.
Those ideas have been shared openly on the league’s weekly general manager’s call, sources say, with the latest iteration on Thursday including optimism that a solution would be found and a continued focus on building an environment that’s on par with the Walt Disney World campus when it comes to the extensive precautions taken. Sources say the Cavs, Pistons and Hawks have been among the most vocal organizations and several teams (including the Timberwolves) are expressing interest in possibly serving as the hosts. Sources say Las Vegas and Houston were among the cities mentioned by league officials as possible locations on the Thursday call.
Robert Sarver: “I had some good fortune in California and it was just an introductory meeting I thought with Commissioner (David) Stern, to let him know that if there ever was an opportunity for a new franchise in Las Vegas, that I would be interested. I went and talked to him about that. At the time I had a pretty good banking presence in Vegas and was there a fair amount and he said ‘You know, I don’t think that’s on the table right now, but it just so happens that the team in your own market just got put up for sale, and why don’t you talk to this individual who is the broker that’s selling the team.'”
Former Thomas & Mack Center director Daren Libonati said he believes Las Vegas would be an ideal location for the resumption of the NBA season, but noted that it has its challenges. “Your biggest challenge, the biggest spoke in the wheel, would be transportation, getting your people from venue to venue and creating a schedule that is organized,” said Libonati, who has 33 years of experience working in local sports an entertainment. “But … that’s what makes us probably the sexiest city in the world,” he added. “We have the ability to flip a switch and change our venues.”
The NBA is in serious discussions with Disney about the property, which has gained clear momentum over cities such as Las Vegas, sources said. It remains unclear when the games would begin, but multiple sources say the prospect of players fully training in mid-June and playing by mid-July has been the most popular and possible scenario discussed. NBA commissioner Adam Silver told the Board of Governors on May 12 that he aims to decide on the season in two-to-four weeks, and that he wants to wait as long as he can to make final decisions.
As I reported two weeks ago, the NBA prefers to have teams play at one or multiple neutral sites; Disney World in Orlando and MGM Grand in Las Vegas are the most likely possibilities. Other locations are also under consideration, including Houston, multiple sources say. In downtown Houston, Toyota Center, the Rockets’ home arena, neighbors the George R. Brown Convention Center; combined, they have the facilities necessary to serve as a neutral site to host games. It remains possible that teams could play games in their own arenas. On Monday, governors in three of the country’s most populous states—California, New York, and Texas—signaled they are open to having sports games without fans. MLB and the NFL plan to do just that. But playing games at a neutral site makes it easier to control variables—the more people involved, the greater the risk. With travel comes the inclusion of pilots, drivers, and hotel workers.
Storyline: Coronavirus
Players and staffers would be living with family members or roommates, all of whom can’t be tracked by the league. Hosting the rest of the season at a neutral site would create less risk, though it remains to be seen what the league and players union will agree on. No matter where games are played, thousands of swabs and tests for players, coaches, and other personnel will be needed. Sources around the league and medical professionals agree that a quarantine with each person staying by themselves for multiple days or longer would be the most effective way to reduce the chances of an outbreak.
“I feel amazing, man,” he says, his native Nigerian accent combining with the Australia affect he’s picked in Canberra. “I feel it’s like a unique opportunity for me to be back on the floor playing. It’s a different feeling. Being out and not playing for a long time, just having the chance to be part of the team, being part of basketball again is amazing.” Now 6’10”, with his knee (and his 43-inch vertical leap) restored, Efe has plenty to look forward to—even beyond his next game at the NBA G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas, in front of scouts and executives from across the league, over the weekend leading into Christmas.
“People are very optimistic that we’ll start the season again,” Nuggets center Mason Plumlee told The Denver Post by phone on Tuesday when asked about conversations with fellow players. “There have been a lot of proposals thrown around. … From the union meetings, I’ve learned that there are developing plans and strategies to bring the season back.” Asked specifically about a “bubble” city or quarantine scenario, Plumlee said it was plausible. Proposals have included playing out the season in either Las Vegas or, potentially, Walt Disney World in Orlando, with no fans.
“I do (think it’s possible) if they have enough rapid testing kits,” Plumlee said. “People know that we’re playing for the TV at this point. It’s unrealistic to expect any kind of attendance. I know that they’ve talked about cutting down the travel party. I’ve heard proposals of one city, two cities, three cities with 10 teams, an expedited finish to the season or a differentiated version of the playoffs. “I feel like Michele Roberts (executive director of the NBPA) and (Commissioner) Adam Silver are having ongoing discussions and they’re going to do everything they can to get the season back, but not at the expense of anybody’s health or put anybody in a risky situation.”
Sports leagues are desperate for a safe way to start playing games again. Las Vegas has tens of thousands of empty hotel rooms and a tourism-based economy that has been wracked by the coronavirus pandemic. Could they help solve each other’s problems? MGM Resorts International, the company that has ownership stakes in more than a dozen hotel-casinos in Las Vegas, has pitched several sports leagues, including the N.B.A., W.N.B.A., N.H.L. and M.L.S., on an audacious proposal to house their athletes and necessary support staff to hold their seasons on a quarantined block on the Las Vegas Strip, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.
Storyline: Coronavirus
According to a proposal deck sent to the N.B.A. and the W.N.B.A., which The New York Times reviewed, MGM envisions a fully quarantined campus, essentially one full block of the Las Vegas Strip, where players would live and play out whatever schedule the leagues want. The athletes would be joined by their families, league and broadcast media employees, as well as the staff and vendors needed to serve them, with access to lounges, spas, restaurants and all the other perks the resorts offer (yes, even gambling). Sports leagues have explored any number of options for restarting their seasons, and various news media reports have floated cities like Las Vegas, Orlando, Fla., and Atlantic City, N.J., and even the states of Hawaii and Arizona as possible locations for games in a semi- or fully-quarantined environment. But most league executives have been publicly noncommittal about their plans.

MGM proposing NBA to re-start season in Las Vegas

MGM Resorts International, the company that has ownership stakes in more than a dozen hotel-casinos in Las Vegas, has pitched several sports leagues, including the N.B.A., W.N.B.A., N.H.L. and M.L.S., on an audacious proposal to house their athletes and necessary support staff to hold their seasons on a quarantined block on the Las Vegas Strip, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 1094 more rumors
According to a proposal deck sent to the N.B.A. and the W.N.B.A., which The New York Times reviewed, MGM envisions a fully quarantined campus, essentially one full block of the Las Vegas Strip, where players would live and play out whatever schedule the leagues want. The athletes would be joined by their families, league and broadcast media employees, as well as the staff and vendors needed to serve them, with access to lounges, spas, restaurants and all the other perks the resorts offer (yes, even gambling).
The centerpiece of the proposal to the N.B.A. is the Mandalay Bay resort, which has 4,700 rooms at three connected hotels at the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip: the Mandalay Bay, the Four Seasons and the Delano. They are also connected by an enclosed walkway to the Luxor hotel, which is where MGM service staff such as housekeepers and caterers would live. As many as 24 basketball courts could be built at the convention center at Mandalay Bay, which hosts the Aces of the W.N.B.A. Five would be used to telecast games, while the others would be for practice. MGM also proposed getting access to the Thomas & Mack Center, an arena on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, that hosts the N.B.A.’s annual summer league.
Jordan Farmar, a former NBA player and two-time champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, loves calling Las Vegas his home for the last six years. He now has a hand in building his own. The Los Angeles native, his wife, Jill, a former professional soccer player, and their two daughters will be moving into their new home in Southern Highlands in May. Domanico Custom Homes is constructing the home valued at $3.5 million, and Farmar and his new carpentry skills have helped it along.
Storyline: Real Estate
The 33-year-old Farmar, who is retired from the NBA, lives in Southern Highlands in a home he has occupied for the last few years. Before that, Farmar bought the 2016 New American Home in MacDonald Highlands in Henderson, which was showcased at the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas. He lived there for less than a year before moving back to Southern Highlands in a 4,000-square-foot home. “I moved to Vegas (as a tax shelter) while I was still playing,” Farmar said. “The more we stayed out here, the more we fell in love with it and the less I wanted to be in Los Angeles. Now I don’t like to go there at all. I go there and handle my business and come back as soon as possible.”
For now, the NBA is still sorting out possible venues. The MGM Grand has been one of several suitors pitching a plan to host the league — and perhaps the WNBA, too — within three adjacent hotels, sources said. Some are proposing pod ideas spread across different regions. Team practice facilities have been discussed. The possibility of Disney World in Orlando, where there are basketball facilities and hotels, has gained momentum.
For a time, Las Vegas was the most popular idea for a proposed resumption of the NBA season: a bubble city of teams grinding out the playoffs within a quarantine of connected casino hotels and arenas. As time has passed, those talking with NBA commissioner Adam Silver find him still needing to be convinced Vegas is the best idea. For some of the league’s most influential veteran star players, that’s a reassuring notion because they’re concerned about some younger teammates struggling with the patience required to properly fortify a bubble environment in Vegas.
When asked about Las Vegas, which has been one of the more popular suggestions among both players and media, Grousbeck once again said he didn’t know about those players because, again, nothing has been decided from Silver and the league’s executive committee. “It’s a fair question,” said Grousbeck. “The fact is that Adam has said we won’t make any decisions, under any circumstances, until May 1st. But it could be, who knows, June 1st or July 1st before a decision is made either to go or no-go. If I knew more, I would have to say I know more but I can’t comment, but I don’t know more.”
Crowning an NBA champion was a rallying cry for one of the polled sources. Reports have the NBA considering the idea of finishing the season as late as Labor Day weekend in September. Another source echoed the talk of playing games in a centralized location like Las Vegas, but again, that risk of one person having the virus and spreading it is why some people are adamant about shutting down the season. The longer it takes to make that determination, the more crunched the NBA will be for time to make that happen, and that could easily impact when next season will begin.
The NBA has considered a similar setup in Las Vegas. Lakers star LeBron James initially voiced his displeasure about playing games without fans but has since softened his stance. “LeBron is right. It’s hard to play without fans,” said Johnson, who stepped down as Lakers president of basketball operations in 2019. “You play one game, you’ll adjust to not having fans there. We’ve all played our whole life on the playgrounds and in pickup games without fans being there. Basketball players will know how to adjust.”
Even if Johnson admitted he is “looking forward to see if the Lakers are going to win the championship,” he seemed more concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic than worried if sports will resume. “I hope that happens. But first the players have to be safe,” Johnson said. “The numbers have to be stabilized. America and all of us who live in this great country we live in need sports, especially in a time like this. But only if everybody is safe.”
He also walked back comments he made on the “Road Trippin’ Podcast” on March 26 when hosts Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and Allie Clifton suggested the league could restart if all essential personnel — players, coaches, training staff, medical staff, referees, broadcasters, etc. — were quarantined together in the same location for the duration of the games left on the schedule and he dismissed that scenario, saying, “I ain’t going for that s—.” “I believe once [the pandemic is] under control and they allow us to resume some type of activity, I would love to get the season back going,” James said Wednesday. “I feel like we’re in a position where we can get back and start to compete for a championship, get back to doing what we love to do, making our Laker faithful proud of us, of being back on the floor. And if it’s in one single, isolated destination … if it’s Las Vegas or somewhere else that can hold us and keep us in the best possible chance to be safe — not only on the floor, but also off the floor, as well — then those conversations will be had. Just figuring out a way.”

NBA considering playing entire playoffs in Las Vegas

The NBA season effectively begins in Las Vegas, with 30 teams descending on Sin City in early July for Summer League, the NBA’s annual rookie showcase. This year, it could end in Vegas, too. The league is exploring the feasibility of holding its entire postseason in Las Vegas, sources briefed on the NBA’s thinking told SI.com.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 2893 more rumors

Various ideas have been floated by players and executives. One is to consider using a sprawling casino property in Las Vegas, where everything could be held under one roof. Others have suggested playing in the Bahamas, where a ballroom could be converted into a playing court specifically for broadcast. There has even been talk of taking over a college campus in the Midwest, where reported cases of COVID-19 are lower for the moment.
Various ideas have been floated by players and executives. One is to consider using a sprawling casino property in Las Vegas, where everything could be held under one roof. Others have suggested playing in the Bahamas, where a ballroom could be converted into a playing court specifically for broadcast. There has even been talk of taking over a college campus in the Midwest, where reported cases of COVID-19 are lower for the moment. Whatever the location, it would be a place where teams could sleep, train, eat and, hopefully, be kept healthy enough to have confidence in resuming play — maybe not to finish out the season but to at least get restarted.
Storyline: Coronavirus
For teams, letting players leave their markets felt inevitable. The NBPA had pushed hard for player movement during the hiatus, and the league never believed it could do anything but recommend players stay close to their respective organizations. Many players’ families live outside of the markets they play in, and the possibility of three months apart before restarting — or the possibility of a canceled season — was a non-starter. The NBA has set up testing and treatment protocols in cities where NBA players live, including one non-NBA city: Las Vegas, a league source said.
Storyline: Coronavirus
Now, the NBA will decide what’s next after making sure its players get the medical attention they need. It will have options. It could try to squeeze in an 82-game season (there are more than 260 remaining) and just move back the start of the playoffs, including the Finals, the draft, free agency and the Las Vegas Summer League — while considering the Tokyo Olympics, if that event is held. Or the league could decide to play the remaining games scheduled when play resumes even if it means less than an 82-game season. The league has done that before in lockout seasons — 66 games in 2010-11 and 50 games in 1998-99.

DeMarcus Cousins hurts knee

Adrian Wojnarowski: Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins has suffered a possible knee injury and will undergo further testing today in Los Angeles, league sources tell ESPN. Cousins was working out in Las Vegas on Monday when he had to leave the court, sources said. He signed a one-year deal in July.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 360 more rumors
Following four days of training and Friday night’s USA Blue-USA White intrasquad exhibition game in Las Vegas, USA Basketball announced 17 finalists for the 2019 USA Basketball Men’s World Cup Team. The 17 include 13 athletes from the USA National Team roster and four players from the USA Select Team. Finalists include 2016 Olympic gold medalist Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings); Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings); Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics); De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings); Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets); Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers); Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks); Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors); Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks); Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz); 2014 World Cup gold medalist Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets); Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics); Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics); P.J. Tucker (Houston Rockets); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics); and Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs).
Yet the mere mention of the word “scrimmage,” for a U.S.A.B. contingent in Las Vegas, inevitably evokes images of what happened to George. That’s the reality even when both player and program can gratefully say, on this unpleasant five-year anniversary, that they have rebounded as well as anyone could have hoped. “It was a travesty when it took place, and it just put us back on our heels,” Jerry Colangelo, U.S.A.B.’s managing director, said Thursday on the eve of Friday’s scrimmage. “But time has a way of healing. The fact that Paul came back all the way and it didn’t affect his career, it kind of minimized what transpired.”
Storyline: USA Basketball