Insurance issues could keep NBA stars off national teams

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This summer in Europe, South America, Africa and all over the globe will be major international basketball tournaments — ones where berths in the 2012 London Olympics will be on the line.

And those nations may be without their NBA players.

All because of the upcoming NBA lockout, and what that could do to player insurance.

Spurs center and Brazilian Tiago Splitter explained the situation the Express-News.

Though he has committed to play for Brazil, Splitter won’t play unless his contract with the Spurs can be insured.

“I told (Brazilian team officials) that of course there is a problem,” Splitter said. “Most important is the insurance. If the NBA is in lockout, I don’t have insurance to play with them. They have to figure out how to deal (with) that. If not, I’m not playing.”

Under the current CBA, teams can’t prohibit players from competing in FIBA events. However, NBA teams must be indemnified against injury incurred in international competition. The cost of insuring contracts worth millions is significant.

“We start in July, our camp with national team,” Splitter said. “I will be (in Brazil), waiting (for) what they can find. There are a lot of international players with the same issue. I don’t know who is going to take care of (insurance): FIBA or companies or even the federation. So everybody is waiting.

“It is going to be expensive, and it is going to cost more for guys with big contracts, so it is really going to cost a lot for Tony (Parker) and Manu (Ginobili) because they must insure the whole contract.”

Splitter speaks for a lot of players here. Playing in this tournament is a risk to their careers, they could get injured. NBA teams don’t love the tournaments anyway. The players want to play, but this is their livelihood and they are not going to do it without proper insurance and protections. (Tony Parker is the exception, saying he would play for France anyway.)

And if you think the NBA owners are going to help out with a solution for their players to go risk injury during a lockout, well, I’m not sure you know all the ingredients in those brownies you just ate.

Watch Kawhi Leonard, Mike Conley in epic playoff duel Saturday (VIDEO)

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Kawhi Leonard scored 16 straight points for the Spurs at the end of regulation to give San Antonio the lead and a chance. Then Mike Conley hit a floater in the lane forced overtime.

There Mike Conley hit a floating bank shot that had the Grizzlies up three with :47 seconds left, only to have Leonard answer with a three to tie the game. Marc Gasol would break that tie and get Memphis the series-evening win.

Conley and Leonard traded blows through the clutch parts of Saturday’s epic Game 4 between Memphis and San Antonio. It’s worth checking out the highlights again.

John Wall goes coast-to-coast, behind-the-back for lefty dunk (VIDEO)

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There’s not going to be many plays better than this in the entire playoffs.

There wasn’t a lot for Wizards’ fans to cheer in Game 3, the Hawks took control early and routed Washington, making it a 2-1 series. But there was this, John Wall going coast-to-coast with the ball, going around-the-back and throwing it down left handed.

Wall is just so fast end to end.

Warriors take 3-0 series lead over Blazers with 119-113 win

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 34 points, Klay Thompson added 24 and the short-handed Golden State Warriors overcame a slow start to take a 3-0 lead in their playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 119-113 victory on Saturday night.

The Blazers led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but couldn’t hold off the Warriors, who can clinch the series with a win Monday night in Game 4 at the Moda Center.

Golden State was without Kevin Durant, who was sitting for a second straight game cause of a left calf strain, and coach Steve Kerr stayed back at the team hotel because of illness.

The Warriors took a 108-100 lead after Andre Iguodala‘s dunk with 4:05 to go.

Noah Vonleh‘s dunk got Portland within four at 110-106 with 1:29 left, but Curry answered with a 3-pointer that all but sealed it, sending fans streaming for the exits.

CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 32 points, while Damian Lillard added 31.

Markieff Morris calls Paul Millsap a “crybaby,” Millsap responds “It definitely got personal now”

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The Atlanta Hawks owned the Washington Wizards from the opening tip Saturday, making it a 2-1 series with an easy win.

It’s a series now — and that includes trash talk.

Paul Millsap had 29 points, pulled down 14 boards, got to the line 11 times, and led the Hawks to the win. He got the calls he wanted this game, but Washington’s Markieff Morris was not exactly down with high praise for Millsap.

The key line here: “”He just did more for his team. He’s a crybaby. Get all the calls and you a crybaby.”

Millsap was asked about that comment in his postgame presser — and the best part may be Dennis Schroeder’s reaction.

“It definitely got personal now, yes. I mean, I don’t care. So what? He can take his loss and go back to the hotel and be ready for the next game.”

These two have already had a beef this series.

Game 4 in this series just got a lot more interesting.