Stern envisions overseas NBA training camps
HOWARD ULMAN / Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) - The NBA is working on plans for three or four teams to hold the major part of their training camps in Europe before the 2006-07 season.
Commissioner David Stern said Monday night he would meet Tuesday in New York with the mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni. Sponsorship and logistical issues still need to be worked out.
"That's our next step in the testing of the (European) markets," said Stern before Game 2 of the Indiana-Boston playoff series. "We need to find sources of support for it."
He said teams could spend 2 1/2 to 3 weeks training in Europe, playing up to six games each against Euro-League teams, then return to the United States for their last two exhibition games.
Stern also praised Pacers coach Rick Carlisle and spoke before the game with Jermaine O'Neal. Stern had suspended eight players on the Pacers and Pistons - including O'Neal for 25 games - for their roles in a brawl during a game Nov. 19 at Detroit.
O'Neal later missed 22 games with a sprained right shoulder before playing the last three regular-season games and the playoffs.
"When Jermaine went down with that shoulder injury and they actually improved their record, the talk in our office was that a lot of players were stepping up, but Rick Carlisle was really doing a great coaching job," said Stern, who was accompanied by deputy commissioner Russ Granik.
Asked if he had considered attending Games 3 or 4 in Indiana, Stern said, "It never came up one way or the other. I just had a nice visit with Jermaine O'Neal. I haven't looked at the schedule that closely, but one of us (he or Granik) will be there."
Stern said he had a "great meeting" with Pacers co-owner Herb Simon at the NBA's two-day Board of Governors meeting that ended last Friday in New York.
"I think he understands a little better" the decisions regarding the suspensions, Stern said. "If you're not prepared to do what you think is right, then you've got a problem holding this (commissioner's) job."
Granik expressed optimism that an agreement would be reached with the players union that restricts players from going directly from high school to the NBA. Talks are ongoing for a new agreement to replace the one that expires June 30.
"Exactly where it settles down on age, number of years, I don't know," Granik said. "But I think there's a good chance we'll have something where you don't come right out of high school."
The league favors a change in current rules that allow American players to declare for the draft after their high school class graduates. International players must turn 18 before the draft.
In recent years, there's been a heavy influx of 17- and 18-year-olds entering the draft, and Stern would like the minimum age raised to 19 or 20.
I think Stern will come and get booed to get it over with.