City Of Mexico City

And-Ones: Doncic, Gee, Mexico City, NBPA

A highlight of Real Madrid star Luka Doncic crossing over former Trail Blazers forward Victor Claver went viral on Thursday, and representatives from a number of NBA teams were on hand to see it in person. According to international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link), the Sixers, Suns, Clippers, Magic, Mavericks, Pelicans, Wizards, and others all had officials in attendance.

Of course, given how highly regarded Doncic is, most of these teams are unlikely to have a shot at him in the 2018 NBA draft. In singling out some of the risers and fallers in the latest update to their 2018 big board, Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) explain why Doncic is at the top of their rankings.

According to Givony and Schmitz, who refer to Doncic as “the most productive European prospect of all time,” the 6’8″ guard could have a legit chance to win the EuroLeague’s MVP award this season. Some scouts worry about his athleticism, his defense, or his ability to create shots, so it’s not a lock that he’ll go No. 1 in June. But Doncic, at age 18, is already one of the best scorers and facilitators in Europe, in the eyes of Givony and Schmitz.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran NBA swingman Alonzo Gee is headed to the G League, according to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days, who tweets that the Heat‘s affiliate (the Sioux Falls Skyforce) has claimed Gee off waivers. The 30-year-old, who has appeared in regular season games for six NBA clubs, last played for the Nuggets in 2016/17.
  • After reporting last week that the NBA intends to establish a G League franchise in Mexico City, Marc Stein of The New York Times takes a deep dive into the issue and outlines why the league is more seriously considering the viability of eventually expanding to Mexico — not just with a G League team, but with an NBA club. The fact that Mexico City shares a time zone with so many current NBA clubs is a major plus, as commissioner Adam Silver observes.
  • The players’ union and former NBPA executive director Billy Hunter have reached a settlement in their legal battle, according to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter links). After the NBPA fired Hunter in 2013, the longtime executive director sued the union for $10MM+, and the union counter-sued. Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed, but Hunter said in a statement that he’s happy about “moving forward after years of hard-fought litigation on both sides.”

And-Ones: Ball Brothers, Seattle, Mexico, World Cup

LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball may end up playing together in Lithuania, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who report that the Ball brothers are in “serious discussions” with Prienu Vytautas. The Lithuanian team intends to decide within the next day or two whether to officially sign Lonzo Ball‘s two younger brothers, sources tell Wojnarowski and Givony.

LiAngelo and LaMelo Ball, who are looking to play together for a professional team after officially hiring an agent and forgoing their NCAA eligibility, likely wouldn’t get a chance to play many minutes in the Lithuanian (LKL) league, per ESPN’s report. According to Wojnarowski and Givony, the Ball brothers would likely see more action – perhaps 20 to 25 minutes per game – in the less competitive Baltic League. As Givony tweets, the pay for the Balls would almost certainly be minimal, and the small Lithuanian town of Prienai would hardly be a “glamorous” place to continue their careers.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • TNT’s David Aldridge is the latest reporter to examine the possibility of the NBA returning to Seattle. While the city looks like a good bet to be awarded an NHL franchise, the NBA and its team owners are less gung-ho about the idea of expansion, according to Aldridge, who notes that team owners wouldn’t want to further split the money from the league’s $24 billion TV deal.
  • In a separate – and interesting – piece for NBA.com, Aldridge takes an in-depth look at the range of emotions experienced by NBA head coaches who get fired.
  • With the NBA making a concerted effort to grow its brand in Mexico, this season’s G League All-Star Game will be replaced by a contest that pits G League All-Stars against the Mexican national team, per The Associated Press.
  • FIBA officially announced on Monday that the 2023 Basketball World Cup will be staged in multiple countries, with Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines earning hosting rights..

And-Ones: Top International Leagues, Seattle, Ball Brothers

While the NBA as a league is as popular as ever, the gap between the best league in the world and the plethora of international options is shrinking. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla recently broke down the world’s top leagues in a must-read feature for any hoops fans curious about the basketball scene outside of the NBA.

Fraschilla ranks EuroLeague as the best non-NBA league. It’s the continent-wide league of top clubs from domestic leagues in countries like Spain and Turkey. The league is very financially stable, Fraschilla writes, noting that approximately 100 EuroLeague players are making as much or more money than the bottom 100 players in the NBA.

Fraschilla highlights Spain’s Liga ACB, the Turkish Basketball Super League and Russia’s VTB United League as the top pro leagues based in a single country.

Other leagues mentioned in the feature include Australia’s National Basketball League and the Chinese Basketball Association, both of which are growing in popularity of late.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • It’s official, Tim Leiweke‘s Oak View Group is investing to refurnish KeyArena in Seattle. Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports breaks down the latest in the pacific northwest city’s pursuit to reclaim an NBA franchise.
  • Professional basketball hasn’t always succeeded in Mexico. Most recently, Nathaniel Janowitz of ESPN writes, the Capitanes de Ciudad Mexico of the Liga Nacional de Baloncesto Profesional have tried to win over hoops fans in the country’s capital.
  • Both LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball have an agent, Jeff Goodman of ESPN writes, so neither will be eligible to play college basketball. As Bleacher Report’s David Pick writes, their chances of playing in a competitive league overseas aren’t exactly great either.

NBA Plans To Establish G League Team In Mexico City

The NBA intends to “move quickly” toward establishing an NBA G League franchise in Mexico City, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links). According to Stein, the NBA wants to get a team up and running as soon as it’s feasible, which could happen as early as next season.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard of the NBA’s interest in an expansion G League franchise in Mexico City. Last month, when Jonathan Givony of ESPN reported that the league was set to announce the opening of a basketball academy in Mexico, he noted that Mexico City was a candidate to emerge as the location for a G League franchise.

Although not all of the NBA’s 30 teams have G League affiliates of their own yet, a G League franchise in Mexico City is unlikely to be affiliated with any specific NBA team, per Stein’s full report on the plan. Stein indicates the club would be owned and operated locally, while Givony’s report last month suggested that top prospects from the NBA’s training academies could graduate to that G League team in Mexico.

For now, 26 NBA teams either own and operate their own G League teams or have a direct affiliation with a G League squad. The Wizards and Pelicans are good bets to join that group next season, with the Trail Blazers and Nuggets looming as the potential final two holdouts.

If the NBA installs a G League franchise in Mexico City and it thrives, it could be the first step toward eventually establishing an NBA franchise in the largest market in Latin America. As Stein notes, the league isn’t currently looking to expand or to relocate any of its teams, but commissioner Adam Silver views Mexico City as a logical candidate for a franchise in the event of relocation or expansion. A G League team could help generate more interest in basketball in Mexico, helping to pave the way for an eventual NBA franchise.

NBA To Open Training Academy In Mexico City

The NBA is on track to open a new development and training academy in Mexico City, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who reports that the league-funded basketball academy will be officially announced at next month’s Global Games in Mexico.

The academy in Mexico City will be the seventh of its kind, as the NBA has already opened academies in Senegal, India, and Australia, along with three in China. According to Givony, the new NBA Academy Latin America will “be utilized as a location for male and female prospects from Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean, starting early next year.”

While the opening of the academy is worth noting on its own, Givony also hears that it could be the first step toward the NBA establishing a stronger foothold in Mexico City. The league has long contemplated the idea of having a team based in Mexico, and sources tell ESPN that the new academy could help make that a more viable possibility.

According to Givony, Mexico City may eventually emerge as a 31st franchise for the G League, where prospects from the league’s seven training academies graduate to. As ESPN’s report notes, commissioner Adam Silver has addressed the idea of a Mexico City franchise in the past, suggesting that Mexico will need to produce home-grown NBA players to make it a legit possibility.

“Obviously, it’s an incredible market with over 20 million people, the largest market in North America,” Silver said of Mexico City in January. “While we have no immediate plans to expand, one of the things that we look at, it’s whether expanding will be additive to the league as a whole and clearly coming to Mexico City, not just because the population of the city but as a gateway to the rest of Latin America could potentially be very important for the league.”

Community Shootaround: NBA’s Presence in Mexico

The NBA’s two-game foray in Mexico City this month may only be a small sign of things to come, as commissioner Adam Silver sounds bullish on the league’s future in Mexico, citing a competitive market and “state-of-the-art arena” to hold NBA games. Prior to Saturday’s match-up between the Suns and Spurs, Silver addressed opportunities to expand in Mexico.

“In terms of a franchise in Mexico City, it’s something that we’re going to look at,” Silver told reporters, including Michael C. Wright of ESPN. “While we have no immediate plans to expand the NBA, one of the things that we look at is whether expanding would be additive to the league as a whole…of course we’ve had these two regular-season games, and whether we bring additional regular-season games in the next season or do some sort of tournament where you bring over a group of teams and they all play each other in some format — that’s something that we’re looking at.”

The league’s two-game excursion to Mexico City was undoubtedly a success. 20-year-old Devin Booker raised his international profile by recording back-to-back 39-point games, leading Phoenix to an upset win over the Spurs. What’s more, players didn’t have to deal with burdensome time changes as they do for games in Europe. While the NBA’s market has been slow to develop in the UK (Brits have an “ambivalent attitude” toward U.S. sport, Ian Chadbank of ESPN writes), it seems there is immediate potential for growth in Mexico.

So what do you think: would the NBA benefit from their second non-U.S. team? Would tournament format games in Mexico City make sense for the 2017/18 season?

Let us know in the comments section!

NBA Considering Possibility Of Expansion?

As the NBA and NBPA work toward finalizing a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the league is also reportedly considering the possibility of expansion, according to Kevin Nesgoda of SonicsRising.com. While no NBA teams are expected to relocate anytime soon, the league apparently hasn’t ruled out the possibility of moving into a new (or old) market via expansion.

According to Nesgoda, he asked dozens of media and league sources whether NBA expansion is on the table, and the overwhelming majority suggested the possibility is being discussed. Nothing is certain at this point, but Nesgoda hears that Seattle remains on the league’s radar. Nesgoda identifies Louisville, Pittsburgh, Omaha, Las Vegas, Vancouver, and Mexico City as other cities that could attempt to vie for a franchise if given the opportunity.

The possibility of expansion is an interesting one for the NBA, particularly if there’s a city with an NBA-ready arena prepared to make a play for a team. Unlike Major League Baseball, where teams play nearly every day, the NBA could conceivably function with an odd number of teams, so adding a single franchise would be realistic. That scenario would dilute the league-wide talent pool slightly, but not significantly enough to have a real impact on the quality of play.

As Nesgoda cautions, there are still plenty of roadblocks between NBA expansion becoming a reality in Seattle or another city, even if the league were to open up bidding. A potential ownership group would require the land, the funding, and the approval for an NBA arena in order to be taken seriously as a potential location for a franchise. Still, it’s something worth keeping an eye on as the league and the players’ union negotiate a new CBA deal.

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