Stern says under-23 Olympic basketball not an “urgent issue”

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Back when Team USA was in Las Vegas, USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo was asked about the idea NBA Commissioner David Stern was floating (on behalf of NBA owners) that the Olympics should become and under-23 tournament. As is done in soccer.

He called it a complex international political problem. One he wasn’t going to discuss before the London Games ended. As he noted, you need FIBA (basketball’s international governing body) on board and you need a lot of other countries to jump on the bandwagon.

Colangelo sounded like a guy who expected a lot of pushback on the idea.

Stern can read the landscape and sounds like he knows this would be a long process, too. At least that’s what Stern said when he spoke to the USA Today.

“Nothing is definitive,” Stern told USA TODAY Sports by phone Thursday. “All we’re talking about is the issue, having taken stock 20 years after Barcelona. What is the best way to continue the growth of the game on a global basis?…

“This is not an urgent issue,” said Stern, the NBA’s commissioner since 1984. “This is just an opportunity to have an intelligent conversation with our friends at FIBA (international basketball’s governing body).”

NBA owners are pushing for this the way owners of major club soccer teams pushed to keep their stars out of another international competition. NBA owners have millions invested in the elite players that come to the games and for them it is all risk (injury) with no reward.

This is about money. As always. Cuban has talked about the NBA putting on its own basketball “world cup” so the league made the money, not FIBA. Stern is more practical, talking more about a FIBA partnership. But ether way, the NBA owners want to get paid.

And that’s why this is going to take a while. Nobody wants to take the money they have out of their pockets.

Which is to say, even though Stern wants it don’t be shocked if the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games has the full complement of NBA stars.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”