Las Vegas to host All-Stars: The 2007 NBA All-Star game is headed to Las Vegas, the first time a city without a franchise has been chosen to host the event. The festivities will take place just off the Strip, at the Thomas & amp; Mack Center on the UNLV campus. Commissioner David Stern called it "a merger between the basketball capital of the world and the entertainment capital of the world" during a news conference Friday while downplaying any concern about linking the image-conscious NBA with Sin City and gambling. "If I were concerned, I wouldn't be doing it," he said. Casinos will not take bets on any All-Star events under a ban proposed by the NBA and approved in June by state gambling regulators. Such bans are not unprecedented in Las Vegas. The Palms hotel-casino does not accept bets on professional basketball games because it is owned by the Maloof family, which also owns the Sacramento Kings. Memphis and New Orleans also submitted bids to host the 2007 game, but Stern said the league wanted to expand its reach. "The step here," Stern said, "is to open this up to non-NBA cities." Next year's game will be in Houston, but Stern has said Paris was being considered for 2008 or 2009.
Hawks: A power struggle among Atlanta's owners heads to court next week, overshadowing attempts in the off-season to improve the team with the fewest wins in the NBA last season. Owner Steve Belkin of Boston has obtained a restraining order preventing his co-owners from removing him as the team's NBA governor. As the NBA governor of the Atlanta Spirit LLC group, which also owns the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers and operating rights to Philips Arena, Belkin must sign off on the Hawks' trades. His refusal to approve the sign-and-trade deal for guard Joe Johnson of the Phoenix Suns prompted the rift. The restraining order obtained Thursday prevents the other owners from following through with plans to vote Belkin out. The restraining order was first reported Friday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston.
Signings: The 76ers signed undrafted free agents Shavlik Randolph and Deng Gai. Randolph, a 6-foot-10 forward, played in 92 career games with Duke and averaged 6.3 points and 4.3 rebounds. He also averaged 1.4 blocks per game and finished seventh on Duke's career blocked shots list with 129. Gai, a 6-foot-9 forward, was a three-time MAAC defensive player of the year at Fairfield. ... Free agent guard Rick Brunson signed with the SuperSonics, his seventh different team in a seven-year NBA career. ... Brunson appeared in 80 games last year for the Clippers. The 6-foot-4 Temple graduate averaged 5.5 points and was ninth in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio. ... Guard Damon Stoudamire signed a four-year contract with the Grizzlies. The 10-year veteran spent the past eight seasons in Portland. He is coming off his best season with the Trail Blazers, averaging 15.8 points and 5.7 assists and shooting 91.5 percent from the foul line. ... The Wizards re-signed forward Michael Ruffin, a role player whose physical play helped the team break its eight-year playoff drought. Ruffin averaged 1.4 points and 4.2 rebounds last season, his first with the Wizards. ... Rookie free agent Rawle Marshall signed with the Mavericks. Marshall, a 6-foot-7 swingman, averaged almost 20 points and eight rebounds as a senior at Oakland University last season.