BOCA RATON, FLA., SEPT. 14 -- The possibility of a world club championship involving the NBA champion could be part of the league's future, Commissioner David Stern said today.

The league's participation in the McDonald's Open -- this year, the New York Knicks will play against POP 84 Split, the European champion, Scavolini Pesaro of Italy and host Barcelona -- has given the league a sense of the possibilities, Stern said.

"If anything, the McDonald's Open is very much sort of a testing ground for a club championship," he said. "We don't wait until the end of our season to send our champion to it. We do some handicapping.

"It might be that the McDonald's Open in some future year will be a tournament," Stern said. "We don't have a grand design on it. We just keep watching what the Europeans do in European basketball, what the soccer people do in World Cup soccer . . . if I had to guess, it would be that the {Open} would in future years be expanded beyond the four-team tournament. It could be a six-, it could be an eight-team tournament."

The league also announced a four-year, 36-week per year commitment from NBC for its half-hour show beginning in October.

In other developments:

The league is not considering further expansion in the immediate future. "None whatsoever," Stern said. Toronto, Orange County (California), San Diego, Memphis, St. Petersburg, St. Louis and Cincinnati have expressed interest, and "we're very polite," Stern said.

The problems of smaller markets is still under consideration, the commissioner said, but if most of the league isn't broke, there's no large uproar to make major changes.

"We're just continuing to work on it," he said. "We share TV money, we share cable money, we share NBA Properties money. We have the cap that tends to keep things down for those teams. We've lowered the minimum . . . overall, in rather undramatic and unspectacular fashion, we have worked very hard to deal with the smaller markets situation.

"It's an ongoing issue, but most of our small-market teams are doing things. Phoenix is building a new building, Utah is building a new building. San Antonio has had a tremendous {season-ticket} drive . . . It's really not small market-large market anymore. You have to analyze it on a case-by-case basis."

No team is contemplating relocation at this time, either, Stern said. Of the Bullets, one of a few teams that lost money last season, Stern said: "They're in a good market. They have a solid building and they have an owner {Abe Pollin} with the determination and financial staying power . . . they're committed to that community. Sometimes it takes longer for some teams to turn it around, but if you watch it, it eventually happens." Ewing's Escape Clause

Al Bianchi isn't publicly addressing the idea that Patrick Ewing could become a free agent next season. Ewing's deal with the Knicks has a clause that allows him free agency if he's not one of the four highest-paid players in the league. Right now, John (Hot Rod) Williams is the only player making more ($5 million) than Ewing's $3.75 million next year.

"That's something we certainly have to deal with," Bianchi said. "Obviously, we're not going to say anything about it."

Boston will not make any arrangements with point guard Brian Shaw to bring him back to the Celtics fold after winning the contract dispute with him.

"There's no deal to be cut," Boston's Dave Gavitt said. "All we can hope is that Brian will uphold his part of it. It's not about making any deal. All we're hoping is that Brian's going to settle his business with the court and comes back. And we're confident that will happen." Money Matters

Les Jepsen's contract has people grousing. The first pick of the second round got a guaranteed four-year deal worth $2 million from Golden State, and it's got the other second-rounders looking for bigger bucks. Philadelphia's Brian Oliver is looking for almost $500,000 this year, and the 76ers have balked. . . . Philadelphia's still looking for a backup point guard for Johnny Dawkins. They've brought in longtimers Rickey Green, Corey Gaines and Eddie Hughes for a look-see. . . . Rumeal Robinson, the Atlanta Hawks' top pick, is all but signed . . . Chris Jackson, the third pick overall, has turned down $11 million from the Nuggets. Denver President Carl Scheer wasn't saying one way or the other . . .

Because they're almost at the salary cap, the 76ers are also asking Mike Gminski to take a pay cut next year to give them more room to sign a free-agent guard . . . Sacramento signed one of its first-round picks today, guard Travis Mays. Three years, $3 million. Anthony Bonner, the 6-8 forward out of St. Louis, also is close to signing.

Former Bullet Division: Mel Turpin is in Illinois, pondering the possible end of his career. A proposed deal in France fell through, and Turpin doesn't want to play in the CBA. So far, no NBA bites . . . Doug Roth got invited to Charlotte's camp . . . Ed Horton signed a contract to play overseas.