Four NBA teams will be playing preseason games in Europe next October as part of NBA Europe Live 2008, commissioner David Stern will announce Thursday.

The series will begin with the New Jersey Nets meeting the Miami Heat on Oct. 9 in Paris and Oct. 12 in London. The Washington Wizards will then play the New Orleans Hornets on Oct. 14 in Berlin and Oct. 17 in Barcelona.

Next season's exhibitions will have increased relevance following Stern's recent declaration that he is hoping to launch a European division of five NBA expansion teams over the next decade. The leading candidates for franchises are London and Berlin, because they are the only two European cities currently with arenas built to NBA specifications. "Our third consecutive year of NBA Europe Live is another step in our ongoing effort to bring the excitement of the NBA to our growing fan base," says Stern.

The NBA continues to make these overseas visits in partnership with the Euroleague. Jordi Bertomeu, CEO of the Euroleague, insists that he does not see plans for NBA expansion as a threat. "Euroleague Basketball is always seeking to participate and help in making the sport of basketball grow across the globe and, for the third consecutive year, we are happy to be participating and making the bridges between Europe and the USA stronger," says Bertomeu. "The NBA Europe Live program offers fans the possibility of watching great basketball, and is one in a series of ideas that can bring basketball to the forefront of world sports."

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