Tony Parker

EuroBasket Day 3 recap: This is why you leave Nowitzki in

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On Day three of EuroBasket we saw a contest of teams thinking Olympic bids with Germany and France, and we saw why Spain runs its offense through the Gasol brothers. There were only six games played on Friday.

France 76, Germany 65: Let’s give France their due — they are 3-0 and the questions about their offense has been answered by Tony Parker, who had 32 in this one. Parker has been as good as any player in this tournament so far. France also had Joakim Noah in the middle to counter the size of Chris Kaman and Dirk Nowitzki, and that worked.

But the German coach sat a cold Nowitzki (5 of 13 shooting for the game) and Kaman for an extended period in the second half and that pretty much killed the German chances in this one. Here’s a good coaching rule of thumb that Rick Carlisle figured out — if you have Dirk Nowitzki, play him.

Spain 86, Great Britain 69: It was all the Gasol brothers. Pau Gasol had 21 points to lead the team, Marc Gasol sparked a second half run that sealed this game up plus he had 11 boards and 5 assists. We already told you Ricky Rubio was unimpressive. Spain is 3-0 but has yet to play any of the good teams in their group, something that is about to change.

Italy 71, Latvia 62: Andrea Bargnani finally showed up for EuroBasket and played like Italy needs him to — 36 points. Italy was the aggressor, got to the line 28 times and knocked down 25.

Lithuania 75, Turkey 68: Lithuania has great depth and balance — Darius Songaila led the team with just 12 points, and he did that off the bench. The Lithuanian bench was key, as was Turkey shooting 3-for-18 from three. Ersan Ilyasova led Turkey with 20 points.

In other action: Serbia 89, Israel 80; Poland 81, Portugal 73.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.