Lakers coach Darvin Ham thinks NBA’s in-season tournament is ‘going to stick’ – Orange County Register

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LOS ANGELES — The way Lakers coach Darvin Ham sees it, the NBA’s in-season tournament will be part of the league’s schedule for the long run.

“I definitely think it’s going to stick,” Ham said ahead of Tuesday’s tournament group play finale against the Utah Jazz. “I just think it’s going to grow and different elements will be added to it to enhance it even more. And then we’ll see where it goes. I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”

Ham said he’s noticed a different intensity level in the tournament games leading into Tuesday. The added incentive of winning the first NBA Cup – the tournament’s trophy – has created a higher level of competition not usually seen this early in the regular season.

So have the monetary incentives for players on the teams that win the tournament and or at least advance into the quarterfinals. There’s also a financial prize pool for coaches, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“These regular-season games have ramifications attached to them now which makes it even more fun,” Ham said. “It’s not a run-of-the-mill regular-season game. They’re well aware. That purse is pretty attractive.”

Does Ham believe the tournament will develop enough prestige on its own that down the line winning the NBA Cup will be more important than winning the $500,000 each player receives for winning the tournament?

“Obviously, the Cup will never supplant the Larry O’Brien [Trophy],” Ham said. “Puts a whole lot of intensity within the game and these guys are aware of that. … The games have been at such a [higher] level than they normally would. This time [of the year] you start feeling that wall kind of kick in a little, starting now: 14, 15, 20 games, 25 games in, the freshness, the newness of the season starts to wear off a little bit and you start feeling the little knick-knack injuries.

“But this in-season tourney has added some spiciness to what’d normally be a run-of-the-mill regular-season game.”

Jazz coach Will Hardy hadn’t really thought about the pros and cons of the tournament and believes the differences won’t be most felt until the knockout rounds.

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