Before the season, Kurt Helin and I did something ahistorical: We picked the Spurs to miss the playoffs.
Kawhi Leonard was gone. So were cogs Danny Green, Kyle Anderson, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Dejounte Murray was out for the year.
I didn’t feel great about omitting San Antonio, but the Western Conference was crowded. There were more good teams than postseason spots. Someone had to get left out.
Of course, it wasn’t the Spurs.
The NBA’s most consistent winner qualified for the playoffs yet again. San Antonio clinched its 22nd straight postseason berth with the Kings’ loss to the Rockets on Saturday. That ties the Syracuse Nationals/Philadelphia 76ers (1950-1971) for the longest playoff streak in NBA history.
Here are the longest postseason streaks of all-time:
San Antonio’s success is particularly impressive considering the era. The league is bigger than ever with 30 teams. Contracts are shorter than before. It’s so easy to have an off year.
Tim Duncan ensured the Spurs remained competitive for so long. Lately, Gregg Popovich has gotten enough star production from LaMarcus Aldridge then gotten everyone else on the same page. San Antonio just avoids mistakes and keeps chugging.
Nobody else now even nears the Spurs’ playoff longevity. Their playoff streak is more than three times longer than any other current streak:
Of course, people could again predict the Spurs to miss the playoffs next year. I even might. Weighted by playing time, they have the NBA’s second-oldest team (behind only the Rockets). The West will likely remain tough. They could easily drop.
But it will always be uneasy picking against this model of consistency.
Believe me, I know.
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.
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.
“My mind on my money and my money on my mind.”
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.
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?