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LeBron James says Cavaliers’ seed irrelevant: ‘If I come into your building for a Game 1, I can be very challenging’

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The Cavaliers (38-26) are third in the Eastern Conference – closer to eighth place than second. Barring a highly unlikely run, they’ll enter the playoffs with LeBron James‘ lowest seed in a decade. The only times he was below a No. 2 seed were 2006 and 2008, when the Cavs were No. 4 seeds, and his first two seasons, when he missed the postseason entirely.

LeBron, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“Listen, it doesn’t matter to me if I’m a six seed or a three seed or a two seed, eight seed,” James said. “If I come into your building for a Game 1, I can be very challenging.”

LeBron has played 13 series without home-court advantage. His teams are an impressive 7-6 in them. The full record:

  • Cavaliers lost to Warriors in 2017 NBA Finals
  • Cavaliers beat Celtics in 2017 conference finals
  • Cavaliers beat Warriors in 2016 NBA Finals
  • Cavaliers lost to Warriors in 2015 NBA Finals
  • Cavaliers beat Hawks in 2015 conference finals
  • Heat lost to Spurs in 2014 NBA Finals
  • Heat beat Pacers in 2014 conference finals
  • Heat beat Thunder in 2012 NBA Finals
  • Heat beat Bulls in 2011 conference finals
  • Cavaliers lost to Celtics in 2008 second round
  • Cavaliers lost to Spurs in 2007 NBA Finals
  • Cavaliers beat Pistons in 2007 conference finals
  • Cavaliers lost to Pistons in 2006 second round

LeBron emphasized that it matters far more how the Cavaliers are playing than where they’re seeded. That’s especially true given LeBron’s ability to dial it up in the playoffs and his experience winning without home-court advantage.

But a team’s record is a good indicator of how it’s playing. It’s far from a be-all, end-all. Teams can play well and lose (and vice versa). But if the Cavs don’t finish top four in the East, that’d be quite the negative indicator.

At times, LeBron looks – as he said – better than ever. But the 33-year-old has also gone through long stretches of defensive indifference. There are signs he’s wearing down.

LeBron is still confident, and he should be. It seems foolish to doubt him, especially in early rounds. LeBron has won the East seven straight years.

But if Cleveland enters the postseason without home-court advantage in the first round, that should raise even more questions. However, if the Cavaliers close the regular season playing how LeBron wants, they’ll probably be the No. 3 seed, anyway.

Minnesota signs undrafted rookie Naz Reid to multiyear deal

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves have signed rookie center Naz Reid to a multiyear contract, upgrading the two-way deal they initially gave him before a strong performance for the team’s entry in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

The new contract, completed Thursday, all but ensures that Reid will be on the regular-season roster, after going undrafted out of LSU.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic broke the story.

The 6-foot-10, 250-pound Reid averaged 11.9 points and 5.4 rebounds in 18.6 minutes over seven summer league games against other clubs largely composed of rookies and second-year players. The Timberwolves’ team reached the championship game.

Reid averaged 13.6 points and a team-high 7.2 rebounds in his lone season at LSU, which reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Bulls bring back Shaquille Harrison on one-year contract

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Shaquille Harrison started last season as an afterthought at the end of the Chicago Bulls’ bench. Then, because Cameron Payne was not good and Kris Dunn got injured (and was really not that good, either), Harrison got his chance — and took it. He was a defender Fred Hoiberg and then Jim Boylen could trust, and he played in the final 72 Bulls games last season at almost 20 minutes a night.

He will be back with the Bulls next season, the team announced.

While not announced, this is a one-year minimum contract. The Bulls waived Harrison back on July 6 as they remade the roster, but Harrison played one game at Summer League for the Bulls and they decided to bring him back.

Harrison is a Boylen favorite — he plays hard and defends well — and while minutes will be harder to come by behind Tomas Satoransky and Coby White, Harrison is a guy Boylen wants on the bench.

Dunn is on the roster at point guard, too, but the Bulls are rumored to be looking to trade him and his $5.4 million salary. Chicago will likely have to throw in a sweetener, like a decent second-round pick, to make that happen.

Nike countersues Kawhi Leonard over ‘Klaw’ logo

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“My mind on my money and my money on my mind.”
—Snoop Dogg

Nike and Kawhi Leonard are going to court over control of his “Klaw” logo, and it’s all about money and brand.

Leonard left Nike last season, eventually signing with New Balance, and he wants to be able to market his Klaw logo as part of his line with his new company. Leonard and his representatives sued Nike for control of the logo, saying Leonard came up with it in his own drawings.

Nike has countersued and said Leonard did not design the logo. Tim Bontemps of ESPN had these quotes from the countersuit itself.

“In this action, Kawhi Leonard seeks to re-write history by asserting that he created the ‘Claw Design’ logo, but it was not Leonard who created that logo. The ‘Claw Design’ was created by a talented team of NIKE designers, as Leonard, himself, has previously admitted…

“In his Complaint, Leonard alleges he provided a design to NIKE. That is true. What is false is that the design he provided was the Claw Design. Not once in his Complaint does Leonard display or attach either the design that he provided or the Claw Design. Instead, he conflates the two, making it appear as though those discrete works are one and the same. They are not.”

TMZ posted the designs.

I’m not about to guess what a judge would decide in this case. Most likely, this gets settled one way or another.

Meanwhile, New Balance is trying to come up with a new slogan for Leonard and his gear. King of the North is now out after his move to the Los Angeles Clippers this summer.

J.R. Smith reportedly meets with Bucks to talk contract

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After five seasons in Cleveland, the Cavaliers waived J.R. Smith. The 34-year-old veteran wing is not part of the Cavaliers future, and by waiving him before the guarantee date they only had to pay him $4.4 million of this $15.7 million salary.

That makes Smith a free agent.

He sat down with the Bucks on Thursday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Bucks can only offer minimum contracts at this point.

Smith will turn 34 before next season starts and his skills are in decline, he shot just 30.8 percent from three last season. The Bucks will likely start Khris Middleton and Wesley Matthews on the wing with Sterling Brown, Pat Connaughton, and Donte DiVincenzo behind them. They have the roster spot to make the addition. The questions are does Smith fit, does he want the small role that’s really available, and how often will he wear a shirt around the facility?