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Paul George told ESPN at Monday's media day that the Thunder are "absolutely" built to contend, and now that he is committed to Oklahoma City long-term, "I can go back to just playing ball and enjoying the game."

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Dwight Howard joked Monday about the sore back that’s expected to keep him out for the start of training camp with the Washington Wizards. Coach Scott Brooks downplayed the significance of the injury, too. … It kind of sucks to fly 15 hours curled up in the fetal position,” said Howard, a 6-foot-11 center entering his 15th NBA season.

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Utah didn't make any major offseason moves but fans shouldn't mistake that for a sign the Jazz are satisfied with the status quo. With the start of training camp, Utah players and coaches are echoing the same message: Continuity doesn't equal complacency. The Jazz are focused on maximizing potential they showed toward the end of last season - with a roster that has returned mostly intact - once the regular season starts in mid-October.

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The Chicago Bulls won't make any bold predictions about Year Two of their rebuilding project. The 23-year-old LaVine and 21-year-old Markkanen were front and center Monday, when the team held its media day amid cautious optimism for the season ahead. ''I want to see growth,'' coach Fred Hoiberg said.

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''You run the risk of overreacting to defeats, and maybe being blinded by victories,'' coach Terry Stotts said. Portland returns the nucleus - Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic - of a team that went 49-33 last season. Boosted by a 13-game winning streak that started with a victory over the Golden State Warriors just before the All-Star break, the Blazers secured the third seed in the Western Conference.

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The Spurs entered camp without stalwarts Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili.

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Growth was the overarching theme during media day at the Nets' practice facility Monday. Entering its third season under general manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn has won 48 of 164 games. In the first season under the new regime, the Nets won 20 games.

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Carmelo Anthony is not sure if he will be in the Houston Rockets' starting lineup on opening night. The 34-year-old forward agreed to a deal with Houston in mid-August after he received a buyout from the Atlanta Hawks. Anthony discussed his role in the Rockets' rotation on Monday.

ESPN

New York Knicks All-Star Kristaps Porzingis says he's taken a conservative approach in his rehabilitation from ACL surgery, in part because no player Porzingis' height has dealt with the same injury.

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The Seattle City Council has unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena, clearing one of the last major hurdles in the city's bid to land an expansion NHL franchise. The 8-0 vote Monday was the last step needed to complete Seattle's expansion application in time to potentially field a team for the 2020-21 season. Seattle Hockey Partners, the ownership group attempting to land the expansion team, is set to present before the NHL Board of Governors' Executive Committee next week.

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The Lakers’ front office insists they’re trying to beat the Warriors. “We’ve got a long way to go to get to Golden State,” LeBron said. How will LeBron – who has won three titles in the last seven years and reached the NBA Finals the last eight years – react if the Lakers aren’t on that level this season?

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''That hurts me,'' Popovich said playfully. The era of the Big Three is officially over for San Antonio with Tony Parker leaving in free agency and Manu Ginobili joining Tim Duncan in retirement this summer. DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, Lonnie Walker, Dante Cunningham, Quincy Pondexter and

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Otto Porter, Jr. is looking to Klay Thompson for a model to follow on offense and Kawhi Leonard for an example on defense.

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The Big Three have cleared out and Lob City is no more. For the first time in 10 years, the Los Angeles Clippers will soon begin a season without DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin or Chris Paul on the roster. ''You got two of the best on-ball defenders in the league,'' he said, referring

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Washington Wizards first-round draft pick Troy Brown Jr. is as mild-mannered as it comes. The 19-year-old did and said all the right things Monday at his first NBA media day inside the brand new Entertainment and Sports Arena in Congress Heights. He made

ESPN

LeBron James says the Lakers have a long way to go to reach the Warriors' level, but if they put in the work, results will come.

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Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon figures it is time to take on some new responsibility now that is starting the season with a new coach and a new long-term contract. After signing a four-year, $76 million contract in July, the 23-year-old forward says the responsibility for turning around the fortunes of the Orlando Magic is on him as much as anyone. ''I'm here to spearhead, to make sure it's all-systems-go and make sure everybody is fighting every single night,'' Gordon said Monday at the team's media day.

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The Phoenix Suns have made a host of roster moves for what they expect to be a vastly improved season ahead. ''I feel like we checked most of the boxes on our to-do list this summer,'' general manager Ryan McDonough said at the team's media day Monday. There is no experienced point guard among the 17 players who head north for the Suns' weeklong training camp at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

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Taurean Prince knows the Atlanta Hawks are about to begin one of the toughest seasons in franchise history. A year after going 24-58 - worst in the Eastern Conference - the Hawks are likely to take a step further back in the standings with an even younger team. Point guard Trae Young, the fifth overall draft pick, and shooting guard Kevin Huerter, the 19th overall pick, are both 20 years old.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo was all smiles but had no jokes. The Milwaukee Bucks' All-Star forward was more business this time around: While he didn't indulge reporters by opening his media day session on Monday with a gag, as he had done in previous years, Antetokounmpo still flashed an infectious grin. Things are looking up for the Milwaukee Bucks as they move into a new arena this fall, with a new coach leading a team headlined by one of the NBA's bright, young stars.

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