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NBA appears headed to Paris for game next season

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The New York Knicks and Washington Wizards spent much of last week in London promoting the NBA game (even if those teams may not be the best ambassadors of the beautiful game), the latest in a line of NBA teams that have played a regular season game in the O2 Arena since the 2010-11 season.

But why London? Basketball in England trails soccer, rugby, cricket, field hockey, auto racing and a host of other sports in popularity. Basketball is widely popular in large swaths of Europe, but not where the NBA takes its annual game.

“One of the reasons London is considered to be so important is that it appears to be, for us, a hub in Europe,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said when addressing the media before that Knicks/Wizards game. “It’s easily accessible for people from throughout Europe. This particular facility, the O2 arena, last I looked is the highest grossing arena in the world and they do a fantastic job hosting major events and that has made it very easy for us.”

Now the NBA appears ready to push its product more in the markets in Europe that care more about basketball.

Silver suggested the NBA could be taking its product to the continent next year, specifically Paris.

“I’m told I’m not allowed to break news today, but yes, it is possible,” Silver said when asked about a regular season game in Paris. “It is something we are looking very closely at, and that is playing a regular-season game in Paris for next season….

“France has historically been a terrific market for the NBA. As you know, we have several players from France as well. I know when we’ve played many exhibition games in Paris over the years — I remember being there with Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls and the tremendous excitement around that team. It will continue, I think, to be an important market.

We took a number of years off because, of course, your arena was being renovated and upgraded. I haven’t yet been to what used to be Bercy Arena, but I hear it’s fantastic. So we’re looking forward to coming back to Paris.”

It sounds like a done deal.

The game likely would feature the Charlotte Hornets, with Tony Parker — the greatest NBA player out of France ever — and another team featuring French players. Might they play Rudy Gobert and the Jazz? Evan Fournier and the Magic? Or the league could send a team loaded with global stars (Warriors, Lakers, etc.). The NBA has options.

Whichever teams make the trip, it sounds like the NBA is coming back to the City of Lights.

One last look back: Best dunks of All-Star Weekend (VIDEO)

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Defense? That’s one thing that rarely makes an appearance All-Star weekend.

Combine that with the game’s best athletes and what you get are three days of insane dunks.

The NBA put this together, the best dunks of All-Star weekend in Charlotte. Enjoy.

Wizards’ Bradley Beal: ‘Recruiting process is really going alright…I’m trying’

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LeBron James went out of his way to say he was not recruiting guys on his free-agent heavy All-Star Team.

Bradley Beal had no such hesitation, he tried to recruit guys, as he told Chase Huges of NBC Sports Washington.

“The recruiting process is really going alright. It’s going alright. I’m trying,” Beal said. “This is new for me. I’m definitely getting some ears and seeing what guys are looking for.”

Beal was too smart to name names — that would have brought a fine from the league — but he said some guys asked if he was happy where he was, while other guys he talked to about the possibilities in Washington.

The problem is while the Wizards will have some cap space after trading Otto Porter and Markieff Morris (and assuming they don’t pick up the option on Jabari Parker) but they will be nowhere near the max cap space needed to land the elite free agents at the All-Star Game (Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, etc.). Even the second-tier All-Star free agents such as Khris Middleton will get max offers. Same with players who just missed the game, such as Tobias Harris.

If the Wizards renounce free agents they can get to $9 million in cap space, stretch and waive Ian Mahinmi and they can get to $18 million. That’s the top end. Meaning the Wizards will have room to make moves for good rotation players, but with John Wall‘s supermax extension kicking in at $38 million next season flexibility is limited. Genuine upgrades will be hard to come by.

Predicting what Washington GM Ernie Grunfeld will do next summer is a fool’s errand, but Beal is doing his part to try and bring more talent into Washington.

Kevin Garnett says 2000 Olympic team had $1 million bounty to dunk on Yao Ming

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Team USA earned a Gold Medal in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, led by Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, and Alonzo Mourning. Lithuania made the Americans work that year, losing by just nine in pool play then by two points in the semi-finals.

That’s not what anyone remembers from those Olympics, they remember Vince Carter doing this to 7-footer Fredric Weiss of France.

Recently Garnett sat down with Dwyane Wade for an interview (which airs on NBA TV today) and he told a fantastic story about that dunk. (Hat tip to Yahoo Sports)

Everything just paused. First of all, people didn’t know, we had a bounty out on Yao Ming. The whole USA team had a bet. We had a million dollar bet on who was going to be the first person to dunk on Yao Ming. None of us did. We all tried to dunk on Yao, but he would block it or we would miss. So, the first thing I thought of when I saw Vince dunk over Frederic was oh s***, you won the million dollars. But then I realized it obviously wasn’t Yao. I pushed Vince, and if you look at the clip, he almost punches me in the face by accident. But my first thought was, oh s***, you won, you got the million.

KG has the best stories.

MSG denies rumor James Dolan looking to sell Knicks

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Rumors that James Dolan is considering selling the Knicks — which elicits a “Hallelujah” chorus from Knicks fans — have been cropping up for a couple of years now. There were rumors he wanted to spin off the Knicks and Rangers into their own company to be sold. That’s just one, there are others — he confirmed he got a feeler $5 billion, but never a firm offer, for the Knicks — and each time he has shot them down.

This is no different.

On his latest Podcast, the Ringer’s Bill Simmons said he had heard that Dolan wanted to focus more on concerts/in-game experiences in Madison Square Garden and that the Knicks were “available.”

The Madison Square Garden Company released this statement (hat tip New York Daily News).

“The story is 100% false. There has been nothing. No discussions. No plans to have discussions – nothing.”

That’s pretty unequivocal.

While Dolan may entertain the idea on some level of selling the Knicks, until he takes concrete steps to do so — not rumors, but actual, documented moves — I’m not buying it. He’s sitting on a gold mine that keeps going up in value, despite how he manages it, so why sell now? Knicks fans that buy this rumor will likely end up like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.