Every NBA team is headed to Las Vegas this summer.
The league announced Tuesday that for the first time, all 30 teams will play in Las Vegas at NBA Summer League. The NBA is also adding an extra day to the schedule for the event, which this year will run from July 6-17 at UNLV.
All teams will play at least five games, and some will play as many as eight depending on how far they advance in the playoff portion of summer league.
“Summer League has become such an integral part of the NBA calendar, especially in Las Vegas,” said Kiki Vandeweghe, the NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations. “It’s grown exponentially. You kind of think about where Summer League has come from, years ago. Now it’s become this event that all 30 teams have to be a part of.”
Summer League started in Las Vegas in 2004, with six teams playing 13 games. Last year, it was 24 teams playing 67 games. This year, it’ll be 82 games — with New York, Detroit, Indiana, Charlotte, Orlando and Oklahoma City in Las Vegas this time, along with the other 24 franchises that were there a year ago.
It won’t be the only summer place to be. Orlando’s summer league has ceased operations, but Utah’s will continue and will again precede the Las Vegas event. When teams get done in Salt Lake City, they’ll make the quick trip up to Las Vegas for at least a few more days of games.
“It’s a place you must be,” Vandeweghe said. “And really, it’s become the center of basketball in the month of July.”
Attendance last year in Las Vegas also set total attendance records, with 127,843 fans, as well as a one-day mark of 17,500. Social media consumption of all things related to Summer League were also up 36 percent last year over 2016.
“It’s growing and growing and growing,” Vandeweghe said.
There are the games at UNLV, with two arenas often in simultaneous use. There are league meetings on a number of matters, from security to media relations.
Virtually every coach and general manager is there, watching their teams, striking deals, or both. Free agency is going on, there’s a buzz about top draft picks making their debuts and it’s not uncommon to have NBA superstars stopping by to catch some of the action.
“Anybody who is a high draft choice, a free agent trying to make it in the league or a young player trying to get some extra practice, is there,” Vandeweghe said. “It’s a very central location that has established itself as the premier summer event for basketball in general, not just the NBA but also international as well.”