Silver eyes All-Star NBA Game in Europe but not soon

Montreal (AFP) - NBA commissioner Adam Silver likes the idea of playing a future All-Star Game in Europe, but emphasized such a move was at least five years away.

On the eve of the 65th NBA All-Star Game in Toronto, the first to be staged beyond US borders, Silver said the extra distance to Asia compared to Europe would have him looking across the Atlantic Ocean for an overseas host rather than the Pacific.

"It's something we would love to do one day," Silver said. "It's not going to happen in the next two, three, four years but it's something that down the road could be really exciting for the NBA.

"We're always talking about it. It's logistically more difficult than it seems."

A week-long break for the All-Star Game would have to be stretched for an overseas event so players could recover from the extra travel and time zone issues.

"Players will need additional time to readjust their sleep patterns and get reacclimated when they come back to the States," Silver said. "If we leave the country for All-Star, it puts pressure on the rest of the schedule."

Silver dashed hopes China or Japan would play host before areas such as Britain or Germany.

"I think getting to Asia during an All-Star break would be that much more difficult than getting to Europe," Silver said. "Absolutely due to the additional number of miles we would have to travel to get to Asia. That would be the only reason."

The NBA played some regular-season games in Japan as recently as 2003 and staged six games since 2011 in London, most recently last month. Two months ago, Mexico City hosted its third NBA regular-season game.

"Mexico City is a market we're particularly focused on," Silver said. "Mexico City is a market in the short term we'll be looking to do more in."

Retired Chinese basketball star Yao Ming and retiring Los Angeles Lakers star guard Kobe Bryant were both cited by Silver for their off-court contributions to the NBA's global growth.

"He has punched way above his weight in the impact he has had on the global expansion of the NBA," Silver said, citing Bryant's blogs to fans in China and social media outreach. "Kobe has been at the center of that."

Yao, an eight-time All-Star forced to retire in 2011 after severe foot injuries, was at the All-Star Game for youth clinics and coached handicapped children in a game where victories were measured in smiles.

"He is truly a global basketball icon," Silver said. "His career was cut short. He didn't achieve everything he wanted on the court, but over a long life he's going to have as great an impact on the game as anyone who ever played."

- Stars align for salary cap? -

Rich new television deals will send team salary caps soaring next season, a move that could lead to superstar players clustering on certain clubs once free agency starts in July to better compete for a title.

"Whether that will happen this summer is unclear to me," Silver said. "We would prefer our All-Stars be distributed around the league but we will see what happens. There will be unintended consequences from all this extra cap room. I just don't know what those unintended consequences will be."

Silver said he expects a memo next week will be sent to discourage players from jumping on rivals for fouls to save time on the clock at the end of games.

He also said the league is strongly considering a rule change regarding players deliberately fouling poor free throw shooters after such instances jumped 5.5 percent so far this season compared to last season. No change would come before next season.

"I'm beginning to feel a change needs to be made," Silver said. "It's early days. We're just beginning to formulate what an alternative would look like."