FIBA clears way for NBA players to play overseas

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It was the one question left surrounding NBA players inking overseas deals — would FIBA, basketball’s international governing body, allow players under an NBA contract to play for another team?

Yes they will.

FIBA made the official announcement Friday, saying it will give players under contract to an NBA team a “letter of clearance” to play overseas so long as there is an opt-out clause that allows them to return to the NBA once the lockout ends.

“As the world governing body for basketball, we strongly hope that the labor dispute will be resolved as soon as possible, and that the NBA season is able to begin as scheduled,” said FIBA Secretary General and IOC member, Patrick Baumann in an official release.

“In view of our role to promote basketball worldwide, we support any player wishing to play the game, wherever and whenever. We do so while obviously taking the interests, rights and obligations of all parties into account,” he added. “We are delighted to see that, in spite of widespread doubts related to the lockout, National Teams competing in this summer’s Olympic Qualifiers will be able to count on the participation of most of their NBA stars.”

This is a win for the players union, which wants players to sign overseas to give it leverage in the labor negotiations. It shows that players have options besides the NBA (just not as many or as good of options).

Deron Williams of the Nets is the biggest name to sign overseas, but a number of other players have signed or are in negotiations. This applies only to players who have years left on an existing NBA deal, free agents (such as Sasha Vujacic) were always free to sign wherever they wished.

FIBA also issued a warning with this.

Any NBA player deciding to play during the lockout, does so at his own risk, notably if he sustains an injury.

FIBA has stated that it is up to the clubs to decide whether or not they shall sign a waiver clearing them of any responsibility towards the player in case of injury and other reasons preventing him from returning to the NBA and from fulfilling his obligations vis-à-vis his NBA team.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.