MIAMI — The Heat’s summer plans will change next year.
After participating in summer leagues in both Orlando and Las Vegas in recent years, the itinerary is about to look different for Miami. The Orlando Sentinel reported Saturday that the Magic will not hold their annual summer league in Orlando next year and will participate instead in the NBA-run summer league in Las Vegas.
The move means the Heat’s only summer-league action could come in Las Vegas moving forward. The Utah Jazz also have their own summer league, with games held before the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said in advance of Sunday’s game against the Pacers that the Heat have not thought about starting a replacement summer league in place of the cancelled Orlando league.
“I think the thought with the league is the Las Vegas Summer League is getting bigger,” Spoelstra said. “The majority of the teams go out there like us and you end up having close to two weeks of games there anyway. So we’ll just try to maximize that and see if we can get some more games. And I don’t know if we’ll be able to match the amount of games that we’ve had by doing both [Orlando and Las Vegas], but there are pros and cons.”
The popularity of the Las Vegas league played a role in the Magic’s decision. While the Heat were one of eight teams to participate in the Orlando Pro Summer League this year, the Heat were one of 24 teams to play in Las Vegas.
In addition, the Orlando league was closed to the public. The games in Las Vegas allow players to perform in front of crowds in two arenas on the UNLV campus, the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion.
The Magic have held a summer league 14 times since 2002.
“The pendulum is swinging toward teams playing in Vegas,” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman told the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s a level of competition and a level of exposure when more or less every team in the league is there and you’re playing in front of 20,000 people as opposed to playing in a gym with a few hundred people. So it better prepares you for what NBA life is really about with the crowds, the pressure, the travel — a lot of what you’re going to have to confront. Obviously, it’s not a true test of an NBA season, but it’s a little taste.”