Kurt Helin

Brooklyn Nets v Miami Heat - Game Five

LeBron in Miami hanging with Wade, Bosh, Heat players


LeBron James has been in Miami the past few weeks, working out Cavaliers teammates and living he South Beach life for a few weeks before heading to Cleveland to chase a ring.

While there, he was hanging out with some old friends.

@dwyanewade @mistadubb @mchalmers15 @chrisbosh @kingjames live life!!

A photo posted by Hassan whiteside (@hassanwhiteside) on

That’s LeBron with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Hassan Whiteside, Mario Chalmers… and Wade’s photographer.

Yes, that starting five could do a lot of damage (even if you threw in the photographer at point guard, LeBron could yell at him as easily as Chalmers). No, it doesn’t mean anything — LeBron is happy in Cleveland. That doesn’t mean he has to spend every minute there. He’s hanging out with some old friends. But go ahead in the comments and throw out your tin foil hat conspiracy theories on what this really means.

Jordan admits NASCAR’s Hamlin bests him at driving

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Michael Jordan’s well-chronicled competitive streak doesn’t end at the edge of the basketball court. It flows into poker games, the golf course, the world of business, a game of Chutes and Ladders with his kids. It’s just who Jordan is, everything is a competition.

Including driving. Although there he’s almost willing to concede that Denny Hamlin — the winner of Sunday’s NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway — may be better than him. From our friend Jerry Bonkowski at our sister site NASCAR Talk.

“(Jordan) texted me Wednesday, said he was in Monte Carlo, and I popped in his head like I always do, which I thought was a little odd,” Hamlin quipped.

“And then he says, ‘I know you’re headed into the playoffs and I just want you to know I’ve never admitted to anybody that anyone is better than me at anything, my whole life.

“But if you win this race this weekend, I will admit that you’re a better driver than I am.’ I thought, ‘Wow, that’d be awesome.’”

Hamlin — who tore his ACL a couple of weeks ago playing pickup hoops — did win. So Jordan has to own up and admit it.

What’s next for Jordan, admitting Jason Day is a better golfer than he is? Lionel Messi is slightly better at soccer? Clayton Kershaw may be a better pitcher? When will the madness end?

Adam Silver: NBA, union talk CBA “on a staff level”

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There is a growing optimistic camp around the NBA that a new CBA will get done without a lockout in 2017. At the very least without the loss of any games. The arguments as to why are a bit nuanced but boil down to this: There is so much money on the table now for players and owners nobody is going jeopardize it.

If you’re looking for another reason to be optimistic, there is the fact union executive director Michelle Roberts said the NBA and players’ union are already talking about the new CBA. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed that, speaking with the Boston Globe, although he said these talks are in early stages.

“Since the day Michele took the job, we’ve been talking on a regular basis,” commissioner Adam Silver told the Globe. “I think we’ve both been clear that our jobs are to bring stability to the league and to continue and build on the success we’ve had. We’re looking forward to engaging with the union. We have a labor relations committee formed. She has her executive committee. We hope to get together this fall and continue the discussions we’ve been having on a staff level.”

These early groundwork talks are not something that has happened before, at least not this early and not this substantively, and that is a good reason for optimism. The sides are likely discussing a lot of potential issues in the CBA, from the age limit to the rookie salary scale.

However, ultimately only one issue matters — the split of basketball-related income (BRI). Under the previous CBA the players got 57 percent of it, under the current deal it’s more of a 50/50 split (it’s a sliding scale of 49-to-51 percent). If one side or the other were willing to give up a couple of percentage points of BRI, they could own every other issue. Money talks. If Silver could talk the owners into letting the players have 53 percent of the BRI, those owners could get the age limit up to 20, even shorter contracts with outs, increased drug testing, and nearly everything else their hearts desired.

Why I don’t have both feet in camp optimism — human greed. For some, enough is never enough (and that’s how a lot of owners got to be billionaires). There are still owners that want a couple more percentage points of the BRI and would like to stick it to the players in the process. There are players willing to dig in their heels — that may not be the majority, it’s not the middle class — and if they get their way this could get ugly.

But there’s real hope that will not be the path, that cooler and wiser heads will prevail. I’m knocking on wood.

Report: Warriors offer Barnes 4-years, $64 million

Harrison Barnes, Damian Lillard

Harrison Barnes is now in the position so many NBA players have found themselves in the past three months: Take the security of a large deal now on a team he likes, or bet on himself that the market will offer more next summer and chase more dollars?

The Golden State Warriors have wanted to sign Barnes to an extension of his rookie deal, and they have put a healthy offer on the table, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Golden State Warriors delivered forward Harrison Barnes an initial four-year, $64 million contract extension proposal, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The $16 million annual offer wasn’t accepted, but appears to be a starting point in talks that could last until the Oct. 31 deadline for rookie extensions.

The Warriors are trying to walk a fine line of keeping their core together and leaving themselves flexibility for future moves. Golden State already has five players making eight digits in salary for the 2016-17 season (Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry). They are going to be bumping up against the new cap, but this deal meets all their needs, as former Nets executive Bobby Marks explained on twitter.

The question is will Barnes go for it?

According to Wojnarowski this offer was on the table a while ago, before Barnes changed agents (he is now represented by Jeff Schwartz of Excel Sports). It’s comparable to what Green is making from Golden State, but with two-thirds of the teams in the league likely to have space for a max salary next summer, does Barnes think he can do better? The fact this report came out now seems like someone is trying to pressure Barnes to take a deal that the public and Warriors fans will see as good.

While he has an important role for the NBA champions (averaging an efficient 10.1 points and 5.5 rebounds a game), does he want to go to a squad that would give him more touches and a larger role? What is his priority?

The two sides have until Oct. 31 to reach a deal. If not, Barnes becomes a resticted free agent next summer.

Pau Gasol commits to Spanish team for Rio Olympics

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Pau Gasol says he plans to vacation next August in Brazil.

Well, maybe more of a working vacation. Spain won EuroBasket, and just reaching the Finals had qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, where they will be one of the few teams given any hope of beating the United States. But to have any chance, they need to have all their stars on hand.

Count Pau Gasol in.

He said this after Spain’s win Sunday, via Sportando.

“I will play at the Olympic Games trying to win a medal” Gasol said.

Did you expect any other answer? He’s been very loyal to Spain over the years. Obviously, the health of the then 36-year-old Gasol will factor in, but with new Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg under orders to reduce the minutes on all the Bulls’ stars, the odds are better he will be able to go.

To medal again, Spain also will need Pau’s his brother Marc Gasol to play, as well as Serge Ibaka (he plays internationally for Spain), and Ricky Rubio, all of whom sat out EuroBasket. Spain is on the older end of the age curve with the Gasol generation, but this is the team that won the Silver medal the last two Olympics, and in what ultimately becomes a one-and-done tournament they are dangerous.