Kurt Helin

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J.R. Smith opening Team Swish lifestyle store around end of month


J.R. Smith sounds like someone growing up.

Yes, he just became known for being the guy without a shirt on — something even President Obama was commenting about — but when you step back from the championship celebration, you get a bigger picture.

On the court, Smith had evolved from an unconscious gunner to a steady catch-and-shoot role player for the Cavaliers. Off the court, he is back with his wife, and he’s making more mature decisions, something he talked about with Jared Zwerling of the NBPA.

Ever since I got back with my wife, Jewel, last year and proposed to her in August, things started going uphill slowly but surely….

A lot has changed for me mentally and materially. I used to in the summertime spend so much money doing a lot of fun stuff. Now, I’m actually consciously trying to save, so we can live how we want to live after basketball. I’ve even sold a few things. More than anything, being in that dad role is more important now. I know I have to leave something for these girls. I don’t want to leave them with bills or anything.

I want to leave with something that they can do what they want to do with it. After my career is over with, and they have kids, I think more than anything it’s just building a foundation for the family.

As part of that, Smith and his father are opening a Team Swish lifestyle store — where you’re going to be able to buy that no-shirt J.R. Smith shirt.

Visit teamswish.com now and pick up your t-shirt of my art work Colab with @freshbrewedtees

A post shared by JR Smith (@teamswish) on

While I had been working on it for a while, it was just the matter of when was the right time. So it just so happens now it is, with the championship, to open my own sneaker store in my hometown of Millstone Township, N.J….

Ever since I was a kid, I always dreamed of having my own sneaker store. When I was growing up, this was when Michael Jordan was in the prime of everything. So a fresh pair of kicks was always everything. No matter what else you had on, if you had a fresh pair of sneakers on, you were always the freshest guy in school—no matter what your pants looked like, no matter what your shirt looked like, hat, whatever. It was always about the shoes, so I got attached extremely early.

Smith is never going to be Kawhi Leonard kind of quiet and mature guy, nor should we expect him to be.

But 2016 Smith seems far more mature than the 2013 version, a man legendary around the league for how fast he would burn through a paycheck (and ask for money up front in his deals). Hopefully he finds that balance — and hopefully his store is a success. I can think of a few teammates where if he got them to swing by….

Stephen Curry is golfing with President Obama on Martha’s Vineyard

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Stephen Curry isn’t in Rio right now, he wanted to make sure his body got healthy and enough rest after a long NBA season. Which is both his right and probably the mature move.

That doesn’t mean his should just be sitting at his home eating bonbons. He’s got the time to fit in some golf. With the president. On Martha’s Vineyard.

This is the second year in a row Curry has golfed with the president while both were on vacation. Curry told NBC Sports last year that it is a surreal experience to play with the Commander in Chief, trying to play a round while guys in suits with automatic weapons are watching.

“I got there about an hour early and there were people going off the first tee like every 10 minutes, like a normal course does,” Curry said. “Then about 20 minutes before the president showed up there was his motorcade of cars, it was basically a ghost town. The Secret Service was in full effect making sure everyone was safe. I’m sure it was the safest golf course in America that day.”

No word on who won the round at Farm Neck Golf Club, although the smart money is on Curry (who is almost a scratch golfer). One thing we know for sure, smack was talked.

Five free agents still available for teams willing to roll the dice

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At this point, NBA teams have almost completely filled out their rosters. Most teams have 14-15 roster spots filled, plus they have some partial-guaranteed deals for guys who will get a look but most likely are just there for training camp fodder.

Still, there are veteran free agents out there, looking for a landing spot.

Let’s be clear, if a guy is still a free agent, there’s a reason. That said, these are names you know. These are guys that very well may get a chance when a team realizes they need help at a position (or suffer an injury that creates a need). Here are the five best free agents still on the market.

1) Lance Stephenson. He couldn’t blend in with the Clippers’ team system last year, but did put up numbers when he went to an injury-ravaged Grizzlies team that needed scoring: 14.2 points a game on 47.4 percent shooting. As a ball-handling forward who can help a second unit put up points, Stephenson has value on paper. But concerns about locker room chemistry, and if he can buy into and play within a team system, have kept him without a contract. Expect some GM will roll the dice on him at some point during the season.

2) Josh Smith. Like Stephenson, he started the season with the Clippers as part of what Doc Rivers thought would be an improved bench, and by the middle of the season he was in Houston, where he played a limited role. While he showed flashes last season (19 points against the Heat, or in Game 2 of the playoffs vs. Golden State), he struggled to hit the three or defend well enough to stay on the court. Like with Stephenson, GMs will have concerns about how he impacts the locker room. It looked like his game has faded, but some team may give him a shot.

3) J.J. Hickson. Statistically, he’s the best guy on this list considering last season. Denver bought him out and he bounced over to Washington, where he provided a little scoring off the bench with 4.3 points per game while shooting 54.6 percent. He hustled on the glass, rolled to the rim, missed free throws (44.7 percent last season), and he doesn’t bring much on the defensive end of the floor. Still, as a reserve big teams could do worse, and he will get a shot somewhere.

4) Ty Lawson. He started last season in Houston, finished it in Indiana, and was a disappointment in both on the court. After two DUIs in a six month span and a team executive saying he showed up to practice with alcohol on his breath in Denver, there are concerns about his drinking. Lawson defended himself from those charges and said the team lands him will get a deal. Hopefully, he has his personal life in order, but he’s going to need to prove he can be better running and offense and setting up teammates than he was last year to stick with a team.

5) Kevin Martin. He bounced between the Timberwolves and the Spurs last season, and while his skills have diminished over the years he can still shoot the rock and that is always valuable. Last season he shot 36 percent from three overall, although he never found the same groove in San Antonio, certainly not like both sides had hoped. Some team that needs shooting — and there are plenty of them — will bring him in at age 33 to see if he still has anything left in the tank.

LeBron James has a football locker at Ohio State


LeBron James is a huge Ohio State football fan. Makes sense, growing up in Akron and all.

I assume through Nike — and in an NCAA-approved way — he made sure the program got a whole bunch of new LeBron XIIIs. Coach Urban Meyer sent him a thank you on Twitter:

What leaped out at me: LeBron has his own locker.

He has one in the Ohio State basketball locker room, too.

Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, I don’t think he has any eligibility left.

Australia men’s basketball has ‘something special’; USA up next

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Down Under is on top in Olympic men’s basketball.

Now Australia is looking forward to its shot at the U.S. for the chance to stay there.

“We’re going out there to win a game,” forward Joe Ingles said. “I think we’ve got a team that is focused on that and we believe we can do some special things in this tournament.”

Australia became the first team to start 2-0 here by pulling away to beat Serbia 95-80 on Monday. Patty Mills scored 26 points and Matthew Dellavedova had 23 points and 13 assists for the Australians, who have opened the Olympics by beating France and Serbia, two of the top-six teams in the world.

The Aussies play the top-ranked Americans on Wednesday.

“We haven’t done anything we didn’t expect to do. These are the goals we set,” center Andrew Bogut said.

“We’re not happy being 2-0. We want to continue on and go to the medal rounds.”

The Australians have a team built to do it. They have big bodies inside with Bogut and Aron Baynes, plenty of playmaking with Mills and Dellavedova, and something more that can’t be measured on a stat sheet.

“I think the belief within our group is something that I don’t know if we’ve ever had before,” Mills said.

The U.S. blew Australia out in the quarterfinals of the last two Olympics, part of a disappointing recent history for a team that finished fourth in consecutive Olympics in 1996 and 2000. The Australians have never won an Olympic medal in men’s basketball, part of the reason they weren’t looked at as a top contender here.

“We haven’t done (anything) the last 20 or 30 years of basketball and we still haven’t done anything, so we got a lot to do,” Bogut said. “But the guys who write stories about that, predictions and all that, God bless them because it’s a tough job at times. But we’re really not buying in to that too much.”

Australia felt it had the potential for its best team ever this year, even with No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons opting not to play and Dante Exum, Ingles’ teammate with the Utah Jazz, unable to make it back from a torn knee ligament.

The Aussies still have an experienced team, with Mills, Bogut, Dellavedova and Baynes all winning NBA championships.

“So they obviously know how to play at this level,” Serbia coach Sasha Djordjevic said.

Now the Aussies want more.

“We set a goal to win a gold medal and that’s what we’re here to do,” Ingles said. “We obviously know how hard that is, it’s obviously not an easy task. We’ve been preparing for this for a long time, but we believe we have a team that can do something special.”

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