ASHBURN, Va. -- Jay Gruden could be playing the Cincinnati Bengals on the moon and it wouldnt matter to him.The Washington Redskins coach will face his former team for the first time Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London. The setting doesnt matter; its a special game for Gruden, who was the Bengals offensive coordinator from 2011-2013. Its in Grudens makeup to treat it as an important game for the 4-3 Redskins, but he cant contain his excitement and nostalgia about going up against old boss Marvin Lewis.Im excited, man, Gruden said. I mean, I cant wait. Really, it sounds funny -- its such a big game for us. I really dont care where we play them. I just cant wait to play the game.Gruden will be able to look across the field at not only Lewis but his old quarterback, Andy Dalton, and receiver A.J. Green. Two coordinator changes since Gruden have changed plenty around the Bengals to the point Dalton isnt worried about Gruden knowing too much, but there are lessons from a few years ago that are helping now in Washington.A big one has to do with Dalton, whom Gruden groomed from a rookie starter into one of the more consistent passers in the NFL.Jay taught me a lot and he gave me a lot of freedom at the line of scrimmage, Dalton said Wednesday. He allowed me to change plays and get into plays that were better-suited for the defenses that we were getting, and so it taught me a lot just through the preparation of it. I feel like hes got a big part in the reason Ive been playing the way I have here recently, and hes got me to be the player I am today.Kirk Cousins is Grudens challenge now, even after Washingtons starting quarterback threw for 29 touchdowns and a franchise-record 4,166 yards last season. Even though they were only drafted a year apart Dalton (second round, 2011) and Cousins (fourth round, 2012), Gruden said theyre developmental curves are different because of the opportunities they got or didnt get early in their pro careers.Dalton was the man from the get-go in Cincinnati, while Cousins had to wait behind Robert Griffin III, who was the second overall pick in 2012. Because Dalton is in his sixth season as an NFL starter, Gruden said hes further along than Cousins at this stage.Cousins looked at Dalton as a blueprint when Gruden joined the Redskins in 2014 and still considers him a great example to follow.There was a desire to glean from Coach Gruden whatever he had taught Andy knowing that hes been able to make a quarterback very successful in this league, Cousins said. Im always studying quarterbacks around the league and hes included in that. Hes done a great job for them as a quarterback, as a leader, and I really admire his game. I certainly want to continue to take steps to play at his level and to do it consistently year-in and year-out.As a Dalton in-training, Cousins has the right guy teaching him in Gruden, a quarterback in his playing days who practices patience with that position. And Lewis thinks Gruden has a Dalton in-the-making in Cousins, who has similar size and can sling it when asked.I see a lot of similarities between Kirk and Andy, Lewis said. I think they both do an incredible job at the line of scrimmage surveying the defense and getting in and out of the right plays. You see the Redskins doing a lot of play changes at the line of scrimmage, which is what Andy has been so good at for us here.Game notes RB Matt Jones missed practice with a knee injury. Jones declined comment, and his status for the Bengals game is unclear. Gruden said if Jones cant play, undrafted rookie Robert Kelley would start and Chris Thompson would remain the third-down back ... TE Jordan Reed and CB Josh Norman partially participated in practice coming off concussions, though Reed said hes symptom free after missing the past two games. ... LT Trent Williams says he expects to play after leaving Washingtons 20-17 loss at the Detroit Lions with a knee injury. ... The Redskins practice Thursday before flying to London for a Friday practice.---AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL NFL Jerseys Sale . Louis. To which I would say two things: 1. Where there is smoke, there is or perhaps has been a little fire. Or, in other words, the two teams would appear to have at least spoken. And spoken is defined as one calling the other to inquire, no more, no less. Wholesale China Stitched Jerseys .com) - Following a late-game loss to the reigning NBA champs, the Toronto Raptors will look to sustain their recent high-level play as they travel to Indiana to take on the Pacers. http://www.jerseyswholesalesale.com/ . Coach Tom Thibodeau says the former MVP will probably start travelling with the team in the next few weeks. Rose tore the meniscus in his right knee at Portland in November and was ruled out for the remainder of the season by the Bulls. Wholesale Jerseys . The injury bothered Bledsoe in the Suns victory over the Clippers on Monday and he sat out the teams home loss to Memphis on Thursday night. China Jerseys Online . Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek defeated Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4) on the indoor hard-court at Belgrade Arena. The victory improved the Czech pairs impressive cup doubles record to 14-1. If youve found this free-agency period -- with its fractured long-term relationships and newly formed ominous alliances -- to be unsettling, maybe its because your concept of the NBA doesnt fit the NBAs concept of the NBA.The NBA sent out a definition of itself last week. It was at the bottom of a news release about the new, high-tech shot clock. At the end of many news releases is a paragraph called the boilerplate, a one-paragraph summary describing the team or company. Think of it as the corporate equivalent of a detailed Twitter bio. In this case the boilerplate read:The NBA is a global sports and media business built around three professional sports leagues: the National Basketball Association, the Womens National Basketball Association, and the NBA Development League. The league has established a major international presence with games and programming in 215 countries and territories in 49 languages, and NBA merchandise for sale in more than 125,000 stores in 100 countries on 6 continents. NBA rosters at the start of the 2015-16 season featured 100 international players from 37 countries and territories. NBA Digitals assets include NBA.com and the NBA app, which achieved record traffic during the 2014-15 season, as well as NBA TV. The NBA has created one of the largest social media communities in the world, with more than one billion likes and followers globally across all league, team, and player platforms. Through NBA Cares, the league addresses important social issues by working with internationally recognized youth-serving organizations that support education, youth and family development, and health-related causes.Notice it didnt read: The NBA comprises 30 teams featuring the worlds greatest basketball players who compete through an 82-game regular season, then four rounds of a best-of-seven playoff series format to determine an annual champion. Thats how we view the league. The NBA has moved far beyond such limited terms. This is about content, merchandising and property.A global sports and media business with heavy internet traffic, vast social media reach and, yes, societal impact (see Adam Silvers stance on LGBT rights in North Carolina). Given that scope, the minor details of who plays on what teams are the equivalent of those terms of agreement that you click past without reading when you download software. Brand takes precedence over ball.The NBA is consumed with perception and PR more than anything else now, a team executive texted me during the playoffs. They follow social media and articles, always taking the [temperature] on their popularity.When the NBA isnt describing itself in press releases, it implicitly lets you know its priorities during collective bargaining negotiations with the players union. The owners know they are on a collective bargaining winning streak and are confident theyll get what theyre after. They also realize they must make compromises to reach an agreement. So they hold the line on what matters most to them. And they care about the money a lot more than they care about competitive balance. (Repeat: global sports and media business.)The owners went after the revenue split during the 2011 lockout and successfully drove the players share of leaguewide income from 57 percent down to 50 percent. They stopped short of a hard salary cap, which would have made player movement more difficult and/or forced talented teams to dismantle before they could form a dynasty. The players agreed to take less money collectively to preserve individual opportunities. That created the structural framework for Kevin Durant to join the Golden State Warriors -- and created all of the wailing that followed the move.Saying that Magic Johnson and Larry Bird wouldnt have made that move is pointless because Magic and Bird couldnt have made that move until unrestricted free agency entered the NBA in 1988 -- after they had won eight rings between them and had no need to leave to pursue championships. And dont forget, the collective bargaining agreement back then was designed to facilitate stars staying with their current teams -- hence the nickname The Larry Bird Exception for the rule that allowed teams to exceed the salary cap when one of their own players re-signed.Chaanges to the CBA as well as changes in players attitudes brought us to the player movement weve seen in recent years.dddddddddddd Increasingly shorter contract lengths, implemented so owners wouldnt get stuck with bad contracts, also increased the turnover rate for stars who couldnt be locked up long term anymore. And the maximum contracts instituted in 1999 minimized the difference between staying and leaving. Yes, there would still be a benefit to signing with the home team, but it wasnt enough to keep Dwight Howard with the Lakers or LaMarcus Aldridge with the Trail Blazers or Durant with the Thunder.The owners chose cost certainty over asset control. Trying to legislate parity was too elusive a goal to burn capital to chase. Near the end of the last lockout, a Western Conference owner said the proposed agreement wouldnt help his team beat the Lakers (who were just a year removed from three straight trips to the Finals), but he was willing to sign off on it to get the season started.Every time theres a dramatic free-agent shakeup, it reminds us there isnt a parity scheme the players cant subvert because of their willingness to take less money. Its interesting when that is or isnt considered noble. Notice how you rarely hear praise for stars taking less money to move to a new team, only when they take less than market value to help their current team bring in new players. Part of that is due to the NBAs success in creating such a character-driven sport -- a superhero, comic-book world, Durant called it at his Warriors news conference. So the analysis focused more on the reflections of Durants moral fiber for leaving Oklahoma City to join a superior rival than the actual logistics of how the new-look Warriors would function. As much as analytics have reshaped the methods of team construction and game strategies, storylines still sell the league to the public at large. A global sports and media business.And such is the business model that at some point it puts the onus on the players to make the financial sacrifices in pursuit of victories. They do so despite the warning that the money is guaranteed, the results are not. For Dirk Nowitzki, taking hometown discounts has brought him respect but no more rings since he brought the Mavericks a championship in 2011.Things worked out better for Tim Duncan, who went to the 2015 All-Star Game on a $10 million salary -- about half the going rate for stars, and half of what he made during his peak earning years in San Antonio. He made two more trips to the NBA Finals in the late stages of his career and got another championship. He also has made almost $240 million in salary over his career. Then again, if money meant nothing to him, he would not have sued a former financial adviser for over $20 million in misplaced investments.Money always matters. Especially when it counts against a salary cap and luxury tax. Thats why Dwyane Wade is no longer a member of the Miami Heat, a once unfathomable concept. Neither he nor Pat Riley were willing to make the financial sacrifices to keep their union together.The economic landscape of the league and the players increasing awareness of their power make the concept of the long-term, single-team career seem outdated. It makes for a nice story, but remember that Durant said comic book, not fairy tale.Or maybe the proper tale is a cautionary one. Other teams saw what it meant for the Lakers to give Kobe Bryant both his money and the opportunity to finish his career with the Lakers. Yes, Kobe and Lakers fans got their fond farewell, with a 60-point performance in his final game followed by a mic drop at half court. But the rebuild was paused for two years -- and the missed chance to hunt for bargain free agents in the retrospectively cheap summer of 2015 looks extra painful now amid the free spending of 2016. Meanwhile, the Lakers just finished with the worst record in franchise history.Then again, the Lakers also sold more than $1 million in merchandise on Kobes last night.One thing we do know about the league is that the NBAs global sports and media business has never been better. ' ' '