LAS VEGAS – First, who won’t be here: Anthony Bennett because of a shoulder injury, now a playing and marketing setback of the missed opportunity for the UNLV product to return to Thomas & Mack Center as the No. 1 pick in the Draft, No. 19 choice and fellow Cavaliers rookie Sergey Karasev because of a commitment to the Russian national team, No. 5 pick Alex Len because of an ankle injury, and nine teams.
The closest thing to offseason league meetings begins today with 22 teams — 21 from the NBA plus a roster representing the National Basketball Development League — playing 61 games through July 22 at Thomas & Mack and the adjacent Cox Pavilion, complete with a gathering of coaching staffs, front offices and a Board of Governors session at a nearby hotel.
The teams will play a tournament-style format for the first time rather than the former approach of the schedule being set in advance. Now, each club will play three games between today and Tuesday before being seeded in brackets leading to the semifinals on July 21 and the title game the next night.
The No. 1 pick will not play for the second year in a row, after Anthony Davis missed the 2012 event to participate with Team USA in the lead-up to the London Olympics. But several other lottery picks are scheduled to be here, including Otto Porter, Jr. of the Wizards, Cody Zeller of the Bobcats, Ben McLemore of the Kings and C.J. McCollum of the Trail Blazers.