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Obama takes in Olympic basketball tune-ups

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Obama takes in Olympic basketball tune-ups

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama basked in the glow of the Olympics on Monday, getting a courtside look at LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and other members of USA Basketball. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden took their seats to chants of "U-S-A" at a U.S. men's Olympic basketball exhibition game against Brazil as the loudspeakers blared Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," images that any president running for re-election would relish. "Obviously the talent that we've got at this point is unbelievable," Obama said during a halftime interview on the cable television sports channel ESPN2. "So there's no reason that we shouldn't bring home the gold. We just have to stay focused."Obama is an avid basketball fan and the tune-up games before the start of the London Olympics allowed him to wrap himself in the Olympic spirit four months before Election Day. His Republican rival, Mitt Romney, is expected to use the Olympics to highlight his leadership role during the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Romney, who helped turn around the Salt Lake City Games after they became caught up in a bribery scandal, plans to be in London for the opening ceremonies next week. First lady Michelle Obama will lead the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremonies. Monday night gave Obama a chance to soak in his favorite sport. After a quick ride to the Verizon Center from the White House, Obama greeted members of the U.S. women's basketball team on a practice court after their 99-67 rout of Brazil in the first game. "We could not be prouder," Obama said after hugging Tamika Catchings, Diana Taurasi and other members of the women's team. The women's team presented Obama with a red No. 1 USA jersey and a signed basketball. Obama, dressed in a blue jacket and jeans, then walked out before a roaring crowd, shook hands with fans and sat down next to former aide Reggie Love, who played basketball for Duke University. Obama and first lady Michelle Obama even appeared on "Kiss Cam," the in-house video that spotlights kissing couples during a game break. The Obamas wouldn't oblige during the first half, despite roars and some boos from the crowd. But in the fourth quarter, "Kiss Cam" peered back on the first couple and the president was ready: He put his arm around his wife and planted a big kiss on the first lady as the crowd roared. LeBron James scored 30 points as the U.S. team rallied from an early 10-point deficit to beat Brazil 80-69. Some members of the men's team are Obama supporters. A handful of Olympic team members, including Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, had agreed to participate in a basketball game fundraiser for Obama's campaign last December but the event was canceled because of the resolution of the NBA lockout. The fundraising game has not been rescheduled. Obama's campaign held a fundraiser last February at the Orlando-area home of Vince Carter of the Dallas Mavericks. Attendees included Paul, who plays point guard for the Los Angeles Clippers, NBA commissioner David Stern and former NBA stars Magic Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. Basketball has been a longtime passion of Obama's. He played high school basketball in Hawaii and likes to play pickup basketball with friends. He helps coach his daughter Sasha's youth team and keeps close tabs on his hometown Chicago Bulls. In March, Obama invited British Prime Minister David Cameron to an opening round game of the NCAA college basketball championship tournament in Ohio.

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Now that the Lakers got Anthony Davis, could the Knicks and others turn to Bradley Beal?

Now that the Lakers got Anthony Davis, could the Knicks and others turn to Bradley Beal?

With all but one of the brick-and-mortar movie stores closed down, there are really only two instances that you hear the word 'blockbuster' these days: when describing Marvel movies and for the type of trade we saw this weekend between the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers.

The Anthony Davis deal is a blockbuster trade in every sense. It is big in the number of pieces involved and because Davis is one of the best players on the planet.

It is important because it could immediately vault the Lakers into title contention. And it provides a new superteam for the league to revolve around and for people to loathe with the Golden State Warriors currently licking their wounds.

But it is also the type of deal that will have major consequences around the league, one that will affect far more than just the teams at the top. It will force a collection of other teams to redraw their blueprints.

The obvious ones are the Knicks and Celtics, the two teams most closely linked to Davis in trade rumors. Now, it is New York that has more urgency, if not desperation, to strike in free agency. Boston to regroup and will probably need to ponder other trades if they want to reassert themselves in the Eastern Conference.

The Davis trade would be a major deal no matter the year, but it is fascinating to evaluate in the context of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson's injuries. The league went from being very predictable to a wide open pasture of possibilities.

Now, the Warriors are good still but are also a beatable team. A window of NBA parity is cracking open and surely the Lakers won't be the only team to pounce.

Houston, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City are always aggressive and will clearly be thinking big. Portland and Denver could see this as the year to go all-in.

Not all teams looking to make a splash will have money to spend in free agency. That points to an aggressive trade market this summer, but there is arguably one big problem. After Davis, it doesn't seem likely many other stars will be available.

Teams seeking stars via trade have enjoyed plenty of options in recent years between Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, Kyrie Irving, Paul George and Jimmy Butler. The formula is generally fairly simple: an All-Star player on an underachieving team with the end of his contract in sight. Recently, the supply has met the demand.

But currently, few fit that description. There are some like Mike Conley Jr. of the Grizzlies, and Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside of the Heat. But none of those players are All-Stars in their prime.

All of that makes it easy to connect the dots to the Wizards and Bradley Beal. They are in an interesting spot, needing to decide whether to retool for playoff contention or take the long view and undergo some degree of a rebuild.

Beal, as their best player, is the catalyst. There are logical reasons to keep him or to trade him. He is one of the best players in franchise history, is only 25 and he's on a team-friendly contract in the era of the supermax. But the Wizards are going to have a tough time improving their roster with John Wall's Achilles injury and contract, which starts at 35 percent of the salary cap. 

The Wizards have held a stance of not wanting to trade Beal and still do. They also likely wouldn't make such an important decision without a long-term team president in place.

But that won't stop teams from calling and there is already speculation around the league about whether Beal will be dealt. One front office executive told NBC Sports Washington that Beal could be the top prize in the trade market if made available now that Davis is gone. 

For a lot of these situations, trades are more likely when a player is entering his walk year. Beal is signed through the 2020-21 season and, even if he grows unhappy, will say the right things.

He won't create necessary drama. And, if you take him at his word in a February interview with NBC Sports Washington, he wouldn't request a trade himself.

Also, there is a reason to believe keeping Beal wouldn't hurt their ability to rebuild through the draft. With the new lottery system, bottoming out doesn't offer the guarantees that it used to. And even with Beal playing all 82 games last season, the Wizards still lost 50 of them and finished with the sixth-best odds.

Just like some have argued the Wizards have reasons to trade Beal, they also have reasons not to. But that won't stop other teams from picking up the phone.

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Wizards bringing in UNC teammates Coby White and Nassir Little for pre-draft workout

Wizards bringing in UNC teammates Coby White and Nassir Little for pre-draft workout

The Wizards are holding their highest-profile pre-draft workout yet on Monday, hosting UNC teammates and projected lottery picks Coby White and Nassir Little. 

White earned All-ACC and All-Freshman honors during his lone season in Chapel Hill, averaging 16.1 points and 4.1 assists per game. Little's season with the Tar Heels did not go as smoothly as White's, but he is an NBA-ready athlete with tons of upside. 

Both White and Little could be options for the Wizards at No. 9 and would provide solutions to some of Washington's major needs. White would give the Wizards a primary play-maker while John Wall recovers from his Achilles injury, while Little would fill Washington's hole at small forward and bring some much-needed defense and rebounding to the team.

Before White and Little, the Wizards had brought in very few projected lottery picks during their pre-draft process, outside of Kentucky forward Keldon Johnson and French prospect Sekou Doumbouya. But with the 2019 NBA Draft looming on Thursday, the Wizards are ramping up their search for the player they'll pick at No. 9. 

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