Kurt Helin

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LeBron, Wade, CP3 vacationing together with banana boat again — now with a Snapchat filter

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Friends vacation together. They bring their families. That’s what LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony are doing right now — for the second year in a row they are all out on a rented boat hanging out together, this time off the coast of Majorca (an island in the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain, best known in the sports world as the birthplace of Rafael Nadal). Must be nice.

And they brought the banana boat back.

You remember the banana boat from last summer, right? Which led to ridiculous “who is recruiting who?” and other conspiratorial plots. Because Twitter loves a conspiracy.

Not only are the four All-Stars vacationing together, but Chris Paul got Snapchat to make them a custom banana boat filter (the original pics from last year had Wade’s wife and actress Gabrielle Union on the boat, but now ‘Melo is along for the ride). Here is what CP3 posted on Snapchat:

Banana boat snapchat

Have fun with this.

And while I think it is likely LeBron James leaves Cleveland some time in the next few years, and him playing with one of his buddies is not out of the question, take off the tin foil hat and spare me your conspiracies. Let four friends take a vacation without projecting your insecurities about your team onto them.

Report: Sixers to make run at restricted free agent Harrison Barnes

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After his Finals performance a lot of people are going to say “are you $&@$(% kidding me?!?” But Harrison Barnes is about to get paid. Like near the max of $22 million paid.

Golden State has his rights and can match any offer, but there is a sense around the league that they are looking at a retooling on the fly — targeting Kevin Durant or Al Horford — and they might let Barnes go. Teams are going to try and poach him.

One of those is Philadephia, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

This makes sense for the Sixers. They are loaded with young talent up front — Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid — and Barnes fits in with that age group, can play the three or the four, hits threes, and comes with the kind of experience young players often lack.

The free agency signing moratorium plays into the Warriors’ hands here. By July 9 when Barnes can formally sign a contract — either an offer from another team or re-signing with Golden State — the Warriors will know whether they landed Durant or Horford or swung any other big moves. If they did, they let Barnes go, if they don’t they bring him back regardless of price.

Barnes averaged 11.7 points a game, shot 38 percent from three, is active off the ball, and he is long and defends fairly well. His development seemed to stall out last season, but teams are betting that was more due to his role on the Warriors than anything else. It’s a risk to take a role player (even a talented young one) and thrust him into a new situation, but some teams — including the Sixers — will bet that his stock is still on the rise.

NBA Free Agency Preview: Top five shooting guards

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Maybe the hardest part of making this list was deciding if certain players were a shooting guard or a small forward — for many players in today’s NBA they are interchangeable. For example, you don’t see Nicolas Batum on this list because I see him as a three, but he could play as a two depending on where he lands. It doesn’t change what they do on the court, but the better designation might simply be wing player.

Unlike the thin point guard spot, there is a deeper crop out on the wing, and with teams looking for shooting these players will be in demand. Here is our list of the top five shooting guards.

1) DeMar DeRozan. The Toronto Raptors has said he wants to stay in Toronto and is only going to meet with the Raptors. The only way another team gets a shot at him is if the Raptors low ball him in negotiations, and that’s not going to happen. DeRozan can get to the rim with the best of them and was an All-Star last season scoring 23.5 points per game. However, his lack of a three-point shot hurts him in the playoffs and against good defensive teams, it would make it difficult for him to be a No. 1 option anywhere.

2) Bradley Beal (restricted). Go ahead and start practicing your outrage now —”Beal isn’t a max player, what are the Wizards doing?” Guess what, Beal is going to be a max player. And the Wizards are going to pay it. The question isn’t his game — he averaged 17.4 points per game last season and is a career 39.7 percent shooter from three — but rather his health, where a stress fracture in his right leg has kept him out of  46 games the past two seasons and is a lingering problem. He’s going to be on a minutes restriction the rest of his career to deal with that stress issue. But if teams are willing to pay you the max (and there are several, which Washington would just match), then you’re a max player, and Beal will be that come early July.

3) Dwayne Wade. There will be a cat-and-mouse game with Wade and the Miami Heat again — he will push for the biggest deal possible noting he has taken less in the past to help the team and its cap situation, the Heat will ask him to take less to help the team and because of his age. Eventually, the two sides will reach a deal. Wade averaged 19 points a game last season and, as we saw in the playoffs, still can become a dominant force for a stretch of games.

4) Kent Bazemore. I’m listing him here, but he genuinely could be a two or a three depending on the team and how you wish to define his role. He had a breakout season in Atlanta and is at the peak of his skills at age 27, plus we know from the past couple free agent periods that top “3&D” guys get PAID. Of the top players on this list, Bazemore is the guy most likely to switch teams, which means he will have a lot of interest from a variety of suitors.

5) J.R. Smith. In Cleveland, away from the clubs of New York and with LeBron James as his mentor, Smith has developed into a solid, reliable catch-and-shoot specialist who brings real value to a team (not just streaky bad shot making). Expect a number of teams to make a run at him, but as long as LeBron is in Cleveland I would be surprised if he landed anywhere else.

Others free agent shooting guards of note: Jamal Crawford, Dion Waiters (restricted), Evan Fournier (restricted), Manu Ginobili, Eric Gordon, Arron Afflalo, Allen Crabbe (restricted)

Tristan Thompson will play for Canada in Olympic qualifying

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Four years from now, Canada could be a beast in Olympic qualifying and the games themselves, a lot of good young players have come from north of the border. This year they don’t yet strike that same ear, especially with Andrew Wiggins out of the qualifying round.

But they will have one NBA star: newly minted NBA champion Tristan Thompson. He’s in for the pre-Olympics tournament where Canada will try to get a last-minute spot in Rio, reports Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson will play for the Canadian National Team with the hopes of qualifying for the Olympics in Brazil this summer, league sources informed cleveland.com….

Canada will play in the Manila tournament. Slotted into Group A, Canada will see Turkey and Senegal in the first round. France, New Zealand and the host Philippines make up Group B.

Other Canadiens in for the qualifying tournament include Cory Joseph, Tyler Ennis, and Joel Anthony. The Canadians are playing in Manilla, where the favorites to emerge and get that spot in Rio is France (although they are short handed with Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, and Nicolas Batum sitting out the qualifying tournament) and Turkey will be strong as well.

Thompson is not the prototypical international big, he’s not going to space the floor with his shot, but his rim protection inside and hustle on the glass certainly will be welcome. He boosts Canada’s chances of getting to Rio.

Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer not guilty in DUI case

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ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer has been found not guilty of DUI charges.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://on-ajc.com/2938xhW) reports that the jury deliberated for less than three hours on Monday before returning the verdict around 5:20 p.m. He was cleared on a DUI-driving less safe charge. Budenholzer was found guilty of driving with a broken tail light and fined $150.

Budenholzer testified in his own defense about when troopers stopped him in August of 2013 for allegedly driving with his lights off and arrested him on suspicion of DUI.

According to WSB-TV (http://2wsb.tv/28WIB3R), Budenholzer has said he thinks the trooper may have been confused about him being impaired because he has chronic redness around his eyes, previous ankle injuries and a foot surgery that causes imbalance.

Information from: WSB-TV, http://www.wsbtv.com/index.html