Kurt Helin

Aussies roll to 81-56 win vs. Venezuela in men’s basketball

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Pool play is over for the Australia men’s basketball team after the Aussies defeated Venezuela 81-56 on Sunday night.

Australia (4-1) had already secured the No. 2 seed in the quarterfinals before the game and rested point guard Patty Mills, whose 20.5 points per game ranks second at the Rio Games. The U.S. holds the No. 1 seed in Group A.

The Olympic experience came to an end for Venezuela (1-4), which was playing in the team’s second games. It placed 11th at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

The Australians jumped out to a 16-2 lead in the first quarter and never trailed. Aussie Chris Goulding scored a game-high 22 and hit four 3-pointers. Australia shot 53 percent from the field while Venezuela connected on just 35 percent of its attempts. The Venezuelans made just seven field goals in the first and fourth quarters combined.

Anthony Perez led Venezuela with 12 points.

You know you have 10 minutes to watch 50 best assists of last season

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When you need a break from the Olympics — not that you need a break, this is NBC after all, so keep watching — we have something for you:

The 50 best assists of last season.

Compiled by the fine folks at NBA.com. Enjoy. Then type NBCOlympics.com into your browser again.

Report: LeBron James could have made more money long term, but opted for more security


Our own Dan Feldman broke this all down before LeBron James even signed his latest, massive contract — he had some short vs. long term decisions to make.

He could sign another one-year deal and sacrificed a little money in the short term for likely more money long term (remember, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is being negotiated and the landscape could shift), or he could go with a multi-year deal and sacrifice a little long term for security.

LeBron chose security — three years at $100 million, becoming only the third NBA player ever to make more than $30 million in a season. But he could have made more. The fantastic Danny Leroux broke it down at The Sporting News.

The decision cost James some money in the future. Had he signed a one-year deal with an option for a second year, as he did in his first two seasons back with the Cavaliers, James finally could have landed a full maximum five-year contract next offseason, assuming the Over-36 Rule is changed. (He would have sacrificed about $3.4 million this season, though.) That hypothetical 2017 deal would have come as the salary cap leapt from $94 million to $102 million, meaning he would have made more money for 2017-18 and 2018-19. Alas, he went with security and avoided having to continue to play these annual option games.

The money still is unprecedented, after all. The far more interesting implications of James’ decision come in the uncertainty of the future. The NBA and its players already have begun discussions on a new collective bargaining agreement that will take effect next summer. Part of those discussions likely will be the existence and limits of maximum contracts.

Some people hate to hear this — because you and I are never going to make $30 million in a year (likely not our lifetimes) — but LeBron is underpaid. Based on what other teams have said off the record about other superstars, he likely generates more than $70 million in revenue annually for the Cavaliers between ticket sales, sponsor deals, and everything else — and that’s not counting the boost in franchise value. LeBron drives revenue, but because of the max salary rules in the NBA he can only make so much (which benefits the Tristan Thompsons and J.R. Smiths of the world, who have value on the court but don’t generate the same revenue).

There has been talk of changing those max salary restrictions — if LeBron (or Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, and all the other obvious max guys in the NBA) can make more money but the salary cap doesn’t change, it becomes much harder to form “superteams.” It’s something some owners support. It is possible under the new CBA LeBron could make more. But even if that happens (far from a sure thing) he will be a free agent in 2018, when he will still be a max player and can cash in.

All of which is to say, LeBron is a smart man about business and knew his options. He made his call. And I don’t think he’s hurting financially.

Celebrate Magic Johnson’s birthday by watching his 32 best assists


I’ll admit my bias up front: Magic Johnson remains my all time favorite NBA player.

The five-time NBA champ and Hall of Famer turned 57 on Sunday, which seemed like a good excuse to break out the highlight videos. This is just his assists — no buckets, just dimes. Enjoy.

Watch some Klay Thompson, USA highlights of win over France

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The good news for Team USA Sunday was that Klay Thompson got it going — and that was enough to lift them to a victory over a shorthanded French team.

Thompson had shot 18 percent from three through the first four games of the Rio Olympics, but was 7-of-13 from deep on Sunday, racking up 30 points in the process. The USA needed those buckets because they still aren’t playing great defense and France came within three 100-97.

Check out the highlights of the win below. Team USA is off until Wednesday, when they start the eight-team tournament that will determine who gets the Gold in Rio.