MILWAUKEE -- The NBA's latest attempt at innovation will begin this week . Modeled after competitions in other sports, both in the United States and abroad, the tournament will see all 30 teams compete for the NBA cup.
All of the action will begin on Friday with the first batch of group stage games. Every team was randomly drawn into a group with four other teams in their conference and will play each of them once. The six group stage winners and two wild cards – the two non-group winners with the best records – will advance to the knockout rounds. From there, it's single elimination the rest of the way.
Every group stage game, as well as the quarterfinals and semifinals of the knockout rounds, will count as regular season games. Thus, the only extra game any team will have to play will be the final. All games through the quarterfinals will be played in the team's home markets, while the semifinals and Final will be held in Las Vegas on Dec. 7-9.
There are, of course, varying schools of thought on the event and whether it's going to work. Ahead of the games, here's a look at what some of those who will be involved have to say.
Smart doesn't pull any punches
"Being completely honest, nobody cares about [winning in-season tournament], it's the big one that we care about,"at media day. "I have mixed feelings on it, but it's great to be able to play more basketball, and I think that's more of it, just those more games for the fans."
Others willing to compete
There are surely other players who share Smart's view, but for the most part, they've been open to the idea. Whether the league has nudged them to act as such in public is unclear (it wouldn't be surprising), but many seem willing to compete.
Here's PJ Tucker from shootaround prior to opening night, back when he still played for the Sixers:
"I don't mind it. If it works for the league, it works for me. It's a part of the business, I think it's a part of the game growing and bringing more to the pot for everybody. I'm excited about it. I think the tournament in Vegas will be pretty cool. I think as it gets further along more guys will get into it.
"Yeah, I mean, you want to win. Anything you play you want to win. I feel like the league is full of a ton of competitive guys. Everybody wants to win, so if we're gonna have a tournament we're gonna want to win it."
"I'm excited about it. It's a new format and at the end of the day these games count for something so we should see competitive games and, hopefully, we come out on top."
Lillard wants to win it for two-way players
By far, the most interesting response to this point has come from Damian Lillard, who noted that the cash prize was enticing, as was the fact that all two-way players get an equal share. Each player on the winning team will receive $500,000 – nearly equal to a two-way player's salary for the entire season.
"I did learn that there's a prize for the champion, individual, and I also learned that our two-way players get that prize as well," Lillard said after the Bucks' win over the Heat. "As somebody who's built relationships with a lot of those guys over the course of my career, I would love to not only be able to win it, but to be able to say we looked out for our guys. I guess I'm excited about the opportunity to do that, but I don't know how many guys are gonna be like 'OK, this is a tournament game, we gotta do this, we gotta do that.' We'll see."
Nurse shares experience from coaching overseas
Sixers coach Nick Nurse spent a number of years coaching in Europe, where in-season cups have long been a staple. As such, he's a big fan of the idea.
"Personally I love it," Nurse said in Milwaukee earlier this season. "Been through it a lot of years [overseas]. It's a part of every season over there. Obviously, it comes from soccer, football over there, so people are really in tune with it, even the players are in tune with it – what's going on and why you're doing it. I love it from that standpoint. I think the other standpoint is when you get down to one-game knockouts at this level I think will be amazing to watch when it gets to that point.
"Yep, I do [think players will take it seriously], but it may take a minute. I think the play-in, everybody questioned that and hated it, and now everybody loves it. That one went pretty fast. We'll have to see."
Coaches split on approach
Bucks head coach Adrian Griffin is all in on the concept and sees it as an important learning tool for his team ahead of what is expected to be a deep playoff run.
"For us, there's gonna be a trophy, so we're gonna go after it," Griffin said. "We're gonna use this opportunity to continue to improve and get better. I think it will give us great experience moving forward, a great opportunity to experience some playoff intensity, playoff atmosphere, playoff environment. It can only benefit us. If you're going to compete, compete to win, and I think our players feel the same way.
"It will be a great exposure to the type of playoff atmosphere that you're going to see in April, May and June. We're looking forward to it."
Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown, however, doesn't plan to approach it any differently than he would a normal game.
"I mean we're not looking ahead to it, you know we are excited about it, and I'm excited to see it unfold but you know we're worried about the Warriors tonight," Brown said prior to his team's loss to Golden State on Wednesday. "That doesn't mean that it's a shot at the In-Season Tournament, or anything like that 'cause we are looking forward to it. It's just we are not preparing for that any differently like we are not starting to prepare for that now. We are just trying to get better and when we play hopefully we'll play at our best because it would be awesome to win a cup."
Players intrigued by unique courts
As part of the In-Season Tournament roll-out,, which they will use during tournament games. The goal is that the unique courts will help fans quickly identify whether a game is part of the IST.
Opinion has been split on social media, but players have been intrigued.
"I like it," Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro said at shootaround in Milwaukee. "I think it's unique, it's different than a regular court, and the games that we're playing are different too, so it goes hand in hand."
"Yeah, I saw the pictures," Khris Middleton said following the Bucks' win over the Heat. "It's pretty cool, it's pretty cool how they did it with all the teams having something like that with their own team colors. Never played on a court like that before, in an NBA setting at least."
CBS Sports' Colin Ward-Henninger contributed to this report.