Kurt Helin


Tony Parker will break all-time EuroBasket scoring record Monday

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We’ve talked before about how Tony Parker is playing for legacy at this point in his career. The future Hall of Famer already is a four-time NBA champion, Finals MVP (2007), six-time All-Star, four time All-NBA second team, and European champion.

Monday you can add to that EuroBasket all time leading scorer to the list.

Parker put up 11 points Sunday in just 20 minutes as France blew out Bosnia and Herzegovina on the second day of the tournament. That gives Parker 1,030 points in his EuroBasket career — tied for the most all time with 1980s Euro star Nikos Galis of Greece.

Monday, against Poland, with his first points Parker will become the EuroBasket all time leading scorer, having done that in 59 games (17.5 points per game). Parker told the media that all he cared about was defending France’s EuroBasket title and with that he wants to get the record out of the way.

That matchup will be one of the more entertaining so far of EuroBasket as both France and Poland (led by Marcin Gortat) are 2-0 in round robin play.

But first, that game will start with a milestone.

Report: Cavaliers will give Sasha Kaun two year deal, first year at $1.2 million


On one hand, you can say the Cavaliers really don’t need Russian big man Sasha Kaun because they are loaded along the front line — Timofey MozgovAnderson Varejao, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson (he’ll be there, the question is the payday).

On the other hand, that’s a lot of guys who battle injuries. Varejao is coming off a torn Achilles, Love off shoulder surgery, and Mozgov’s knee is keeping him out of EuroBasket this month.

Which means Kaun could be pressed into duty, kind of a utility big man. The two sides reached a deal, but that has yet to be officially signed and announced, but Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has a few details.

I hear the Cavs will give Sasha Kaun a two-year deal starting at $1.2 million for 2015-16. Not sure how much the second season of the contract will pay the 6-foot-10 Russian center.

The two years is smart as well. Mozgov is a free agent next season, Varejao’s $10 million is not fully guaranteed and the Cavs likely take the buyout, and the Thompson situation is up in the air and he could potentially be gone after this season.

Which is to say, whether this year due to injury or next due to roster turnover, Kaun could be pressed into regular duty — he could be a rotation player for the Cavs. At age 30 he is who he is and should be able to adapt to the NBA game fairly quickly, but if nothing else he’s a good insurance policy at a minimum salary.

One Miami Heat player on the bubble: James Ennis

Philadelphia 76ers V Miami Heat

Last season, James Ennis showed promise with Miami. After a year playing in Australia, he showed NBA athleticism and the possibility to develop into a “3&D” guy early on, then took advantage at times of his opportunity later in the season. If he could develop consistency with his shot (32.6 percent from three) and defense, he could be a rotation player.

But at Summer League and through workouts, Ennis seems to have plateaued, if not outright regressed. That leaves the Long Beach State grad in danger of not making the Miami roster, reports Barry Jackson at the Miami Herald (adding to what others have said).

Barring trades involving Mario Chalmers or Chris Andersen, forward James Ennis appears the only incumbent Heat player at risk of being cut, with his $845,059 salary becoming fully guaranteed on Oct. 28. Ennis, who disappointed the Heat in summer league, is fortunate that the Heat hasn’t used its roster spots on an established veteran who wants to be here (such as Rasual Butler, who expressed interest).

The Heat players who have been signed to spots 16 through 19 are viewed as D-League players, though forward Greg Whittington could challenge Ennis. If Ennis struggles in camp, the Heat will consider keeping the 15th roster spot open until something intriguing comes along.

NBA training camps tend to be without “Hard Knocks” kind of drama (thanks to mostly guaranteed contracts) but Ennis in Miami is the exception. That said, his potential and showing last year could land him a spot on another roster willing to take on a bit of a project, a team that knows how to develop players.

Of course, Miami can be that kind of team, too. Ennis just needs to take advantage of the situation.

Physical point guard Kyle Lowry talks weight loss

Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards - Game Four

Summer claims of NBA players’ weight loss/gain usually have the value of an inflatable tiger’s head. This is the time of year those claims start to pop up across the league as guys start to show up at team facilities for workouts, and most are pretty hollow.

But Kyle Lowry‘s weight loss — which has shown up on Instagram — turned some heads north of the border. A guy known for being a physical point guard got thinner, is that a good thing? Lowry talked about it with Stack.com (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

“It started during [last] season, and even before that. I was talking to my wife, and she said “You were always your best at your college weight.” The saying is, the older you get, the lighter you’ve got to be. I thought Ray Allen did a great job of that, and Chauncey Billups too. I’m getting to the point where I’m a little bit older. I’m still young, but I’m a little bit older, and I can pick and choose how I want my body to look and feel.”

But can he still be physical?

“Who said I won’t be? I’m still lifting, still moving the same way I used to. So there’s no change in that. I’m going to play the best basketball I can play. I’ve always tried to be stronger than people and just a bigger bully. People are making a big deal out of something. I’ve always worked hard. This is just me changing up the way I do it, the way I dieted and the way I eat, the way I grind. I’ve always worked hard, it’s just now I’m smarter and older and I know how to work.”

Nobody should question Lowry’s desire or work ethic. What you can wonder about is if this give Lowry the desired results — keep him healthy through the season and into the playoffs. Last season Lowry averaged 3.5 points and 1.8 assists per game fewer after the All-Star break than he did before, and his shooting percentage fell to 37.3 percent for those final 17 games. He wasn’t the same guy. Early in the season, when he had to take on more offensive load (DeMar DeRozan was out), he was fantastic, but he faded as the season dragged on.

If Toronto is going to take a step forward and get out of the first round of the playoffs this season a few things have to happen. Bringing in DeMarre Carroll and focusing more on defense has to work. Jonas Valanciunas has to take a significant step forward (especially on defense). And Lowry has to be healthy and rested for the playoffs.

It sounds like Lowry is at least doing his part.

Top 5 plays from Day 2 of EuroBasket: Video proof Andrea Bargnani can play defense

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Andrea Bargnani plays defense? We have the video proof.

The top five plays of EuroBasket Day 2 — put together by FIBA — is an all NBA affair with a sweet pass from Sixers mystery man Dario Saric, Bargnani blocking a shot, and Tony Parker feeding Nicolas Batum for the alley-oop during the French rout of Bosnia.

Consider this a little summer fix as we move toward NBA training camps opening at the end of the month.