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NBA approves tampering fine increases

(Photo by Seyllou / AFP) (Photo credit should read SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

The NBA's board of governors was unanimous Friday in its approval of a plan to stiffen potential penalties for tampering with players and employees under contract with other clubs, hoping for increased compliance in existing league rules.

Fines of up to $10 million are now possible in the most egregious situations, along with forfeiture of draft picks, suspensions of executives and voiding of contracts when rule breaking is found - significant enough threats, the league hopes, to end any notion of teams entering into deals with free agents before rules allow.

"We need to ensure that we're creating a culture of compliance in this league," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said after two days of meetings concluded in New York. "Our teams want to know that they're competing on a level playing field and frankly don't want to feel disadvantaged if they are adhering to our existing rules."

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Pistons sign 17-year veteran Joe Johnson

DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Pistons have signed 38-year-old swingman Joe Johnson.

Detroit announced the move Thursday.

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USA hoops still No. 1 after World Cup

USA Basketball has kept its No. 1 spot in the FIBA world men's rankings, even after a disappointing seventh-place showing in the World Cup that ended earlier this week.

It's now nine-years-and-counting in the top spot for the U.S., which has held the No. 1 ranking since winning the 2010 world championship. World Cup champion Spain stayed No. 2, Australia leaped eight spots to No. 3, World Cup finalist Argentina rose one spot to No. 4 and World Cup bronze-medalist France fell two slots to No. 5.

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Spain, NBA champ Gasol win World Cup

BEIJING (AP) Marc Gasol looked to the sky as confetti fell, some sticking to his massive shoulders, and then cradled and kissed the giant golden chalice that goes to the World Cup champions.

He's getting good at hoisting trophies.

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Tsai completes purchase of Nets, arena

NEW YORK (AP) The Brooklyn Nets have a new owner and a new CEO.

Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai completed his purchase of the team and Barclays Center on Wednesday, then announced that he had hired former Turner Broadcasting President David Levy to oversee both.

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Wizards' Isaiah Thomas out 6-8 weeks

WASHINGTON (AP) Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas underwent thumb surgery and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

The team says Thomas ruptured the radial collateral ligament in his left thumb during routine workouts Monday and had surgery Wednesday. General manager Tommy Sheppard says it is "an unfortunate setback" for Thomas but expects the 30-year-old to make a full recovery.

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France beats Australia for bronze medal

BEIJING (AP) France has another bronze medal in the World Cup to go with one it won in 2014 - a measure of its world basketball status.

Australia still has none. Not a single medal in the Olympics, and now it's also been shut out at the World Cup.

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Jordan, NBA owners create tequila brand

BOSTON (AP) When Michael Jordan decided to get into the tequila business, he could have slapped his name on the label, maybe autographed a few bottles and sold out the whole run in hours.

No matter what it tasted like.

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Popularity of NBA growing in China

BEIJING (AP) Kobe Bryant went to China for the first time in 1998, making the trip to Beijing to help operate an instructional basketball clinic for about a dozen kids. The local coaches working with him didn't know a lot about the game. Barely anyone noticed that an NBA player was in town.

Basketball wasn't a big deal in China.

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Popovich defends US after placing 7th

BEIJING (AP) Their final game at the World Cup had been over for several minutes, and every member of the U.S. team and coaching staff were still lingering together on the court.

They were ready to go home.

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