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If NBA cancels season, should NBA players boycott Olympics?

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Technically, USA basketball and the NBA are separate entities making separate decisions. Yet the two are so intertwined with sharing players and David Stern’s globalization of the game efforts — not to mention Nike’s influence — that it’s hard to tell them apart.

Which had Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com suggesting that the players should use the Olympic Games as a bargaining chip at the labor talks table.

Simply put, NBA players should make it clear that if the owners cancel the 2011-12 NBA season then they will not play in next summer’s Olympic games. In theory, the NBA has little to do with the Olympics; instead that’s USA Basketball’s domain.

But the NBA and Team USA work together closely, and it’s a relationship the players are obviously aware of. Former Suns owner Jerry Colangelo is the director of USA basketball, and NBA coaches usually make up a portion of the staff.

It’s an interesting idea. It’s also not going to happen.

The reason is the players — especially the elite players making the Olympic team — are brands. Brands that sell shoes and other things that bring in international endorsement deals. Those brands need to be in the Olympics. They need that stage.

Plus, after the public relations hit the players took after a missed season, doing something that would be called unpatriotic on top of it, would be a disaster.

Bottom line, the guys calling for a hard line now — Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and the rest — would not sacrifice the Olympics and what it means to their pocket books to help the cause.

From a pure labor negotiations tactic, the players threatening the Olympics is a smart one. It’s a nice bit of leverage. But they wouldn’t cut off their nose to spite their face like that.

Al Horford shows he still has hops dunking on Solomon Hill (VIDEO)

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That’s just nasty.

Atlanta’s Al Horford gets the ball out high, but within his range, so when he pump fakes Indiana’s Lavoy Allen goes flying by. That opens up the lane and Horford attacks it, Solomon Hill tries to cut him off, but Horford just finishes threw him.

Pacers and Hawks played an entertaining, close game Friday night.

Dwyane Wade shows he still has hops with dunk on Hornets (VIDEO)

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Dwyane Wade still has some springs.

In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.

Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.

Reigning dunk champ LaVine: ‘I’ve got tricks up my sleeve’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.

LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.

LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.

If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.

Report: Blake Griffin has second procedure on hand, timeline remains unchanged

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Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).

That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.

This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.

Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.

And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.