Kurt Helin

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NBA franchise in Mexico City? Adam Silver: “It’s something that we’re going to look at.”

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Every season when the NBA plays games in Europe (regular season or exhibition), the question of an NBA team on that continent comes up. And each time it runs into one major obstacle: Travel. It would be difficult even to get an All-Star Game in overseas due to the logistics.

But what about Mexico City?

The NBA packed the house twice this week, once for the Mavericks to beat the Suns on Thursday, then for Spurs vs. Suns on Saturday. There is growing demand for the sport in Mexico, and the travel time issue goes away — it takes less time to fly to Mexico City out of Los Angeles than Chicago, and from New York it’s no worse than any other cross-country flight.

Adam Silver was asked about an All-Star Game in Mexico City at a press conference Saturday and — as is his way — said he was open to the idea.

“And as for an All-Star Game, again, that’s something we’ll look at as well. Again, we need to take a fresh look at the entire format and see what makes the most sense for a midseason break,” Silver said.

What about a franchise in Mexico City? Maybe just don’t expect it soon.

“The next step before we start talking about a franchise in Mexico City is to bring more games here, and we have this two regular-season games and whether we bring additional regular-season games next season or do some sort of tournament with several teams playing each other, that is something that we are looking at…

“… In terms of a franchise in Mexico, most likely Mexico City, it’s something that we’re going to look at,” Silver said. “This is an incredible market, well over 20 million people, the largest market in North America. While we have no immediate plans to expand in the NBA, one of the things that we look at is whether expanding would be additive to the league as a whole. Clearly coming to Mexico City, not just because of the huge population here in Mexico but in essence as a gateway to the rest of Latin America, could potentially be very important to the league.”

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was down with a franchise in Mexico City, as he told ESPN.

“I would love a team down here. I think it would really help the sport,” Cuban said. “I would like to come back with the Mavericks, and every time that the NBA asks, we would love to be here.”

There have been issues with arenas in Mexico City in the past, but a new state-of-the-art Arena Ciudad de Mexico should change that.

We’re a long way off from a team in Mexico City. First, expansion does not appear on the horizon for the NBA (sorry Seattle), and no teams are close to moving. If a team does eventually relocate or the NBA expands, a host of domestic cities will be in line.

However, this could happen down the line. The NBA realizes it is the premiere basketball league in the world and it wants to grow that brand and rake in money from other countries. Think of it this way: Soccer fans in the USA will watch MLS games and have teams they love, but they also all have their favorite English Premier League team such as Chelsea or Machester United (or, in my case, a Championship level team in Newcastle that will be back up in the big show next season). Those leagues know they can make money off the fans here, the NBA is going to do the same.

Expect an All-Star Game before a team, but even that is going to be into the next decade (maybe well into it) before it becomes a reality.

DeAndre Jordan drops 24 points, 21 boards to lead Clippers past Lakers

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This wasn’t a battle for Los Angeles (come on, we all know L.A. is Chargers’ country now, especially with that logo). Frankly, it wasn’t much of a battle at all.

The Clippers got out to an early lead, were able to do what they wanted with impunity, and ultimately beat the Lakers 113-97 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score suggests. DeAndre Jordan was at the heart of it all — he had 24 points and 21 rebounds. The Lakers had no answer. Jordan was dunking like the play above all game.

The Lakers also couldn’t stop Chris Paul, who was just out there making plays.

Jordan Clarkson led the Lakers with 21 points. Make no mistake, the Lakers were terrible.

Derrick Rose says coach Jeff Hornacek “has to be on us hard about defense every day”

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The Knicks defense is bad. Everyone knows it. The only way it could get more attention is if Donald Trump tweeted about it. The Knicks are 25th in the NBA for the season defensively, allowing 107.7 points per 100 possessions. They actually do okay defending shots (teams shoot 50.5 percent eFG%, which is middle of the NBA pack) but they don’t force turnovers, are the third worst defensive rebounding team in the league and allow 14.6 second chance points a game to opponents, plus they are bottom 10 in things such as points allowed in the paint or points given up off turnovers.

The Knicks know it’s their problem, too.

Derrick Rose — who has had his strained relationship with coach Jeff Hornacek of late — wants the Knicks coach to push them harder on that end. Here’s what Rose said, via Al Iannazzone of Newsday.

“We were just talking about defensive schemes, what I see with our defense, what he thinks our problems are,” Rose said. “I just told him, it’s defense. Our defense triggers a lot of things. And I told him he has to be on us hard about defense every day. Like, beat it in our heads where we get tired of hearing him talking about it.”

“It’s not just one element,” Rose said. “It’s all of it — effort, schemes, decision-making, personnel, communication. It’s everything.

“You can tell when we’re out there. You have some games where we have everything clicking. It’s no middle ground with us. It’s either we look good, or we look quite different than that. I wanted to say another word, but quite different than that. We got to have an in-between. Then right when we’re slipping, we got to be able to let everybody be aware of that and try to fix it — not after the game, but during the game.”

I like that Rose is stepping up to be a leader on this issue. If you’re thinking about Rose going AWOL and that impacting his credibility, know that he is still respected in that locker room.

The Knicks turned their defense over to Kurt Rambis early in the season, and Rambis is a lot of things but defensive coach like Tom Thibodeau — who Rose has spent most of his career with — he is not. The Knicks are not getting better on that end, the overall defensive numbers the past 10 games mirror the season numbers (they are ranked higher because other teams slipped below them).

Those defensive issues for New York start with Rose, who has been solid navigating the pick-and-roll and sticking with his man, but once rotations kick in he floats and gets lost. Pair Rose with Carmelo Anthony (never a great defender) and the Knicks allow 109.1 points per 100 possessions. But Hornacek needs to play those two together.

The Knicks did hold the Sixers and Bulls under 100 points recently, and although there were mitigating circumstances there, maybe it is something they can build upon. Amazingly, New York is just two games out of the playoffs in the East, and if they could solidify that end of the court, maybe they could climb in.

Boston’s Jae Crowder fined $25,000, Washington’s John Wall $15,000 for confrontation

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That became an expensive conversation.

The Celtics’ 117-108 win over the Wizards this week was chippy — Otto Porter said the Celtics try to play dirty — and after the final buzzer Jae Crowder and John Wall had words, which became Crowder pointing at the face of Wall, then Wall responding in kind, then coaches and other players stepping in and everyone posturing.

Saturday, the NBA announced fines for the incident. Crowder was docked $25,000 for the confrontation and “attempting to escalate the situation after exiting the playing court.” Wall was given a $15,000 fine for his role.

These two teams meet again Jan. 24 in Washington.

Harlem Globetrotters’ Buckets sinks indoor/outdoor trick shot at Kings’ new arena

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The Kings’ new arena in the heart of Sacramento is state of the art and stunning. Taking advantage of that California weather, one end of the area opens up to create this amazing indoor-outdoor feel for the arena. It’s unique.

It also opened the door for some trick shots.

The Harlem Globetrotters’ Buckets Blakes knocked down some indoor-outdoor trick shots at the new arena. He lived up to the nickname.