Fall league set for Las Vegas

Updated: September 6, 2011, 9:59 AM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- The NBA canceled its annual summer league in Las Vegas due to the lockout.

How about a fall league in Sin City?

Starting Monday, dozens of pro players are expected to compete in an NBA-only league in Las Vegas, according to longtime trainer Joe Abunassar, a driving force behind the league.

Among the 40 or so players currently committed to playing are Knicks guard Chauncey Billups, Knicks forward Shawne Williams and New York rookie guard Iman Shumpert.

Others include Wizards guard John Wall, Memphis forward Zach Randolph, Bucks guard Stephen Jackson and Nuggets forward Al Harrington.

NBA players have been unable to access team facilities since July 1, when league owners imposed a league-wide lockout.

Since then, some of the game's best, including Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, have participated in summer pro-am leagues.

The pro-am games have drawn a mix of NBA, college and amateur players.

But the fall league in Las Vegas, dubbed the Impact Training Competitive Basketball Series, will feature only NBA players.

"I've trained guys for 15 years and there's nothing better than playing against high-level competition," Abunassar said by phone Monday.

Abunassar expects the league to be comprised of six to eight teams of seven to eight players, with NBA teammates playing together when possible. There will be a playoff round and championship game, which is scheduled for Sept. 23.

Games will feature NBA rules with slight adjustments to foul rules and 10-minutes quarters.

Fans will also be allowed to watch, for a fee. After covering league costs, proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to charities selected by each team.

Abunassar plans to post statistics and standings on the Impact Basketball website and hopes to reach a deal with a broadcaster to provide feeds to the games online.

Besides Shumpert, first-year pros scheduled to play include Grizzlies guard Josh Selby and Wizards guard Shelvin Mack. Among second-year players expected are Clippers forward Al-Farouq Aminu, Blazers guard Armon Johnson and Celtics guard Avery Bradley, according to Abunassar.

The Las Vegas league could be particularly valuable to rookies, who would miss crucial practice time if the labor strife affects training camps, set to open in early October.

"Instead of playing in a gym somewhere by themselves now they've got an NBA five to (play) with. They've got guys that know rotations, they've got guys that know how to help," Abunassar said. "It's going to be intense; I think everyone's into it."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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