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James not worried about being top-paid player

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James not worried about being top-paid player

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) LeBron James wants to win as many championships as he can. When it comes to the titles dictated by money, he's not that interested.

The Miami Heat star says he's not worried about being the NBA's highest-paid player.

``It doesn't matter to me being the highest-paid player in the league,'' James said. ``I think my value shows on the floor.''

He added: ``If this was baseball, it (the salary) would be up, I mean way up there.''

James spoke following the team's afternoon shootaround in Indianapolis leading to Friday night's Heat-Pacers game.

Initially, the questions were about whether the league's collective bargaining agreement would allow other teams to build the same way Miami did, by signing three big-name players.

James was the top prize on the free-agent market in 2010 but acknowledged he took less money to play with Miami and pursue NBA championships with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

James and Bosh each reportedly signed six-year deals worth $110 million. Wade's deal was for six years and $107 million. Each deal was under the NBA's maximum contract.

The Heat won the title last season, and all three Miami stars can opt out of their contracts next year. There has been speculation that the Cavaliers, James' former team, might be interested in signing him, as would the Los Angeles Lakers.

But under terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, which begins to be implemented in earnest next season, teams will be penalized more harshly for exceeding the salary cap than they were in the past, and repeat offenders will have it even worse.

It's already making an impact.

The new economic structure has already led to some significant personnel decisions. Oklahoma City decided to break up a core that had taken the Thunder to the NBA Finals the previous summer when they chose to ship James Harden to Houston just before the season rather than sign him to a contract extension that would have subjected the team to the more punitive luxury tax.

In the past two weeks the Memphis Grizzlies, who were considered to be legitimate challengers to the Thunder in the West, traded valuable bench player Marreese Speights and two other players to Cleveland for Jon Leuer in a salary dump, then sent leading scorer Rudy Gay, who is making $16.5 million this season with $37 million more over the next two years, to Toronto.

The move helped get the Grizzlies under the cap for next season, but left coach Lionel Hollins wondering if they still had enough to compete in the powerful Western Conference.

``When you have champagne taste, you can't be on a beer budget,'' Hollins said, before going on to say he understands the challenges new Memphis owner Robert Pera faces in one of the NBA's smaller markets.

So when James was asked whether it was right that the league's reigning MVP was not its highest-paid player, he just smiled. He later said money will not dictate his plans.

``I've not had a max contract yet, it's a story that's been untold,'' he said. ``I don't get (credit) for it. But that doesn't matter to me. Playing the game matters to me.''

Few players, even those earning more money, have a stronger resume than James.

He was the youngest player in league history to be chosen the NBA's rookie of the year, the youngest to be the All-Star Game MVP and in January became the youngest player to top 20,000 points.

At 28, James is nowhere close to slowing down, either.

Last year, James won his third MVP award, his first NBA title, was a unanimous choice as NBA Finals MVP and earned his second Olympic gold medal.

So the money issue seems to pale in comparison, especially given that James has been able to supplement his income off the court.

``It's not all about money. It's about winning. I know that and I don't mind,'' James said. ``It doesn't bother me because I'm OK, I'm financially stable and my family is OK.''

The small markets may not be the only ones that have to swallow hard and watch some big stars walk away. The new deal was designed in part to level the playing field and try to discourage teams in big markets or glitzy locales from hoarding all the talent.

Even the mighty Lakers have expressed concerns about their bloated payroll going forward. That means the era of the super team could be coming to an end, unless players such as James decide to take less money to make it easier on a front office to lure more prime talent.

Of course, it still may not matter for several deep-pocketed owners, including Brooklyn's Mikhail Prokhorov and New York's James Dolan.

The Buss family in Los Angeles may also find the allure of championship chasing hard to resist and use revenues from a mammoth new television deal to help offset the major tax penalties they could incur.

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AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis also contributed to this report.

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

PODCAST: WIZARDS MAKE A FREE AGENT SIGNING

The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

RELATED: DURANT MAKES HUGE DONATION TO PG COUNTY SCHOOLS

Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.