NBA notebook

Team USA suffers big early loss

Insurance issues keep Stoudemire on sideline

May play in London
Associated Press / July 21, 2010

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Amare Stoudemire will not play for the United States in next month’s world championships because of problems insuring his contract, a damaging blow to the Americans on the day training camp opened in Las Vegas.

The New York Knicks’ new forward was expected to be one of the Americans’ top players in Istanbul, but the team learned of the change of plans yesterday.

The Knicks asked Stoudemire to pull out Monday night and he understood, though he was looking forward to rejoining the team after playing for the Americans in the 2007 Olympic qualifying tournament. He could still play in the 2012 Olympics if the insurance issues are worked out.

“We can only address right now, this year,’’ USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo. “The fact that we were notified by his team that they were pulling him we didn’t get specific about next year or anything beyond the immediate information.’’ first reported that Stoudemire might not be available to play in the championships that begin Aug. 28.

Stoudemire has had microfracture knee surgery among his injuries, a major reason Phoenix wouldn’t offer him a maximum length contract. The Knicks then gave him a five-year deal worth nearly $100 million, even while saying they weren’t sure if the contract could be insured.

According to the Knicks, the insurance policy from Stoudemire’s contract with the Suns is still in place, but it excludes his surgically repaired left knee. The Knicks have begun working to secure insurance on his new deal, but that hasn’t been completed.

Nowitzki takes a pass
Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki will not play for Germany at the world championship.

The German basketball federation said that the nine-time All-Star would be back for the 2011 European Championship that will also serve as a qualifying tournament for the 2012 Olympics in London.

The announcement came shortly after the Mavericks signed the 32-year-old Nowitzki to a new contract, a deal reportedly worth over $80 million for four years.

Howard joins Heat
After 14 years, Pat Riley finally has Juwan Howard. Howard joined the Miami Heat, signing a deal that won’t raise the ire of NBA officials — unlike his first agreement with Riley. In July 1996, Howard signed a $100 million, seven-year contract with Miami that was ultimately voided by the league because the Heat had gone over the salary cap. This time, Howard signed for the veteran’s minimum salary. Howard becomes the 12th player under contract by the Heat for 2010-11, the sixth newcomer to join the rebuilt roster . . . The Trail Blazers have reached an agreement with restricted free agent Wesley Matthews, a deal that was solidified when the Jazz did not match Portland’s offer for the shooting guard . . . The Bulls reportedly are finalizing a sign-and-trade deal with the Warriors for guard C.J. Watson.

Rockets sign Miller
Brad Miller has signed with the Rockets, reuniting the 7-foot center with coach Rick Adelman. Miller signed a three-year, $15 million contract to back up Yao Ming, who is expected to be ready for next season after sitting out a year to recover from foot surgery. Miller spent last season with Chicago and played for Adelman from 2003-2006 when he coached the Sacramento Kings . . . Lakers center Andrew Bynum has pushed back the date of his surgery to correct a meniscus tear in his right knee to July 28 . . . Forward Al Harrington’s first visit to Denver since signing with the Nuggets as a free agent included passing the physical exam that sealed the deal and a frank get-to-know-you session with coach George Karl. “He just told me some of the things he doesn’t like about my game,’’ Harrington said with a laugh. “There were more things he liked than didn’t like. And the things that he told me about, I can definitely change. I’m not worried about it.’’

Good riddance
Stung by LeBron James’s decision to leave Cleveland and play for Miami, Cavaliers fans have been unloading their unwanted No. 23 jerseys, T-shirts, and other clothing items bearing James’s name at locations around the city. Organizers are shipping the discarded James gear to homeless shelters in South Florida . . . Prominent sports agent Lon Babby, 59, is taking a pay cut, probably a significant one, to become president of basketball operations for the Phoenix Suns, a job he called “the opportunity of a lifetime.’’ His initial task will be to hire a general manager. Babby’s clients included Boston’s Ray Allen.

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