Kawhi Leonard’s game winner bounces in for Toronto, sends Philadelphia home (VIDEO)


Is he really going to leave Toronto after the greatest moment in Raptors’ history?

July will be July, but in May Kawhi Leonard is the king of Toronto.

This is why Raptors GM Masai Ujiri bet big on getting Leonard last summer, to make at least one run at a Finals for Toronto with a guy who had done it before on the biggest stages. Toronto had a good team the past few years, but one that kept falling on its face in those big games. Sunday night, in Toronto’s biggest moment this season β€” tie game, 4.2 seconds left β€” Leonard did this.

It’s the only walk-off Game 7 winning shot in NBA history.

“I was telling them I work on it every day, driving baseline,” Leonard said on the court of his shot that bounced on the rim four times. “I said I missed the last one short so I just wanted to put it up in the air and got the shooter’s bounce.”

The Raptors advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Bucks starting Wednesday night in Milwaukee.

Game 7 was not pretty β€” the defense was intense and players on both teams were tight. Toronto won shooting 38.2 percent for the game. Pascal Siakam, who had been brilliant all series, seemed afraid to shoot. Kyle Lowry was 4-of-13. So Toronto turned Leonard loose and got 41 points on 39 shots β€” the most shots ever taken in regulation in Game 7 (Elgin Baylor took 40 in 1961 in a 1961 Game 7, but that game went to overtime). Leonard had 15 points in the fourth quarter, including those final two.

Toronto also got 17 points off the bench from Serge Ibaka on 6-of-10 shooting, plus he had 8 rebounds.

Joel Embiid had 21 points to lead Philly, but he was gassed at the end having played 45 minutes. Still, Embiid was +10 in his 45:11, the Sixers were -12 in the 2:49 he rested. He meant that much to the 76ers. Embiid was in tears heading back to the locker room, having given all he could.

“It’s going to be a life memory that, as painful as it feels now, it will help shape his career and give him greater clarity of what this time of the year represents,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said of Embiid. “It’s hard to be the last man standing.”

Philadelphia GM Elton Brand traded away a lot of depth to get Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, going all-in to win now, and that lack of depth became an issue in this series.

Butler was everything Brand and Sixers fans could have wanted from the trade in this series and in Game 7. He had 16 points for the game and took over down the stretch, including hitting a transition layup with 4.2 seconds left to tie the game.

It was just one shot short.

The loss sends Philadelphia into a summer where Butler, Harris, and J.J. Redick are all unrestricted free agents. How this playoff run shapes their decisions remains to be seen β€” it is far too early to tell β€” but Philly has to look at why they fell short on this run and make changes.

Brown may also be in trouble as the coach, reports have surfaced that he needed to reach the Finals to save his job. Even though Brown was the better coach in this series.

Toronto moves on to the Eastern Conference Finals and a showdown of Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo, not to mention two of the top five defenses in the NBA this season. It’s going to be another tight, grinding series.

Toronto has shown it can win those, even when they don’t play their best, thanks to Leonard.


Minnesota signs undrafted rookie Naz Reid to multiyear deal

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) β€” 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 β€” 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 β€” he plays hard and defends well β€” 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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β€œMy mind on my money and my money on my mind.”
β€”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?