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David Stern to meet with FIBA leaders in New York

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Officially, none of this is about the lockout and NBA players going overseas… unless that somehow comes up.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has a meeting set up with FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann this week in New York. With all the talk of players going overseas would say “what a coincidence” but everyone involved said this meeting has been on the books for months to discuss the 2014 World Championships.

That doesn’t mean, however, other topics might not come up. Coincidentally, of course. Chris Sheridan of ESPN has some ideas.

A spokesman for FIBA would not disclose the exact topics on the agenda, but it’s expected to include two important issues: the prohibitive cost of securing insurance for foreign NBA players who wish to play for their national teams this summer, and the legal ramifications of FIBA issuing letters of clearance to players such as Deron Williams who have signed contracts with overseas teams.

We’ll take the second one first — there are a lot of NBA players talking about playing overseas during the lockout, and Deron Williams has even signed a deal. But for Williams to play for his new Turkish team in a European competition, he has to get a “letter of clearance” from FIBA because he is already under contract with New Jersey.

Stern and the league have said they would not stand in the way of players going overseas, but you’re kidding yourself if you think this all goes unmentioned.

Insurance is another issue, usually NBA players are covered to play internationally through their existing deals. Not with the lockout. It’s a lot of money — Spanish officials said it could cost more than $6 million to insure their team during EuroBasket this summer (the Olympic qualifying tournament for the continent). That is a chunk of change. In the case of Australia, they already said Andrew Bogut will not play with them this summer because of the cost.

Don’t expect anything earth shattering out of these meetings, but Stern tends to exert subtle pressure in these situations to get what he wants.

Sixers to retire Moses Malone’s number next season

Darryl Dawkins, Moses Malone

Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.

There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?

LeBron James with two-handed halfcourt bounce pass for assist (VIDEO)

LeBron James
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Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:

Kobe gets great introduction, loud ovation in Philadelphia

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Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game —  but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.

In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.

Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.

That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.

Rumor: Nets testing trade waters for Bojan Bogdanovic

Bojan Bogdanovic, Otto Porter Jr.
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If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.

First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.

Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.

Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.

Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.