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Top 10 players still available after Day 1 of NBA free agency

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That. Was. Insane.

An estimated $1.7 billion in NBA contracts were handed out. Mike Conley is now the owner of the richest contract in NBA history. Joakim Noah is a Knick for $72 million. Dwight Howard has gone home to Atlanta for $70 million. From minutes after the clock struck midnight on July 1 deals were flying with a few reasonable deals (Jeremy Lin to Brooklyn for $36 million) and a few head scratchers (Evan Turner got $70 million?).

Who is left? Here are the Top 10 free agents still on the board, with an update on where things stand with them.

1) LeBron James. We’re required to lead with the best player on the planet because he is technically still available as a free agent. We all know he’s signing a short-term deal to stay in Cleveland (although the numbers are a little complex), but he remains a free agent so we’ve got to put him here.

2) Kevin Durant. Durant met with Oklahoma City Thursday night (he could do that before free agency officially started because he was a member of the team still), then sat down with the Warriors and Clippers on Friday. (There were reports Durant was “blown away” by the Clippers’ presentation, which is great but because they cannot offer him a max contract it’s hard to see that deal getting done.) Up on Saturday are the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics, while on Sunday Pat Riley and the Miami Heat get their shot. The feeling around the league is still Oklahoma City likely wins out in the end.

3) Al Horford. By signing Dwight Howard and re-signing Kent Bazemore to $70 million deals, the Hawks essentially ended Horford’s run in Atlanta (they are not going to pay the luxury tax for him, and while in theory they could make trades to clear out cap space for him that seems unlikely). Horford met with the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, and Houston Rockets (plus a “mystery team” according to Ramona Shelburne). He may well hold off his decision a few days to see where the Warriors and Spurs fall after Durant makes his decision.

4) Pau Gasol. He had a very quiet first day of free agency, which is how he likes it. Portland is reportedly interested right now. But like Horford, it could be wise for Gasol to let the Durant situation play out because both the Warriors and Spurs reportedly would come calling.

5) Harrison Barnes (restricted). There have been rumors that the Sixers, among other teams, are poised to make a big offer to Golden State’s starting wing player. But in a familiar theme (read the notes on Horford and Gasol) what happens to him is tied to Durant and others — if the Warriors get KD they will not match an offer for Barnes. If they don’t, that door starts to open. Barnes would sign his offer sheet from whatever team on July 7 (the day the signing moratorium ends), and the Warriors have three days to match.

6) Dwyane Wade. The report is Miami’s first offer to Wade was for $10 million a year — if that is true, he has a right to be insulted. The Heat are going to pay Wade Jared Dudley money? Wade reportedly has been offered more like $20 million a season from The Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Milwaukee Bucks. He reportedly put out feelers to the Spurs (who likely would not offer that much) and Knicks (who can’t). In the end, he probably uses this as leverage to get a better deal with the Heat, but apparently the door is at least cracked open.

7) Dirk Nowitzki. Friday was a rough day for Mark Cuban and the Mavericks. They met with Mike Conley, Hassan Whiteside, and Nicolas Batum, all of whom used Dallas as leverage to get bigger deals and re-signed with their current teams. Also, Chandler Parsons bolted (for a max contract in Memphis). Nowitzki will take his time reaching a deal and do whatever helps Cuban and the team the most; he doesn’t want to leave and go somewhere else (unless Cuban decides to blow the whole thing up).

8) Ryan Anderson. The prototypical stretch four saw a lot of interest: The Raptors, Nets, Lakers, Kings, and Wizards have all expressed some level of interest. Other teams could step up as well (teams that strike out on Durant included). About the only thing that became clear on Friday is that Anderson is not going back to New Orleans, they seemed to move on reaching deals with guys such as Solomon Hill.

9) Bismack Biyombo. With Hassan Whiteside and Joakim Noah off the board, the pace of action around Biyombo should pick up. He may be the best center left on the board — and the fact Timofey Mozgov just got $64 million has to make Biyombo (and his agent) optimistic about the offers that should start to roll in.

10) J.R. Smith. The shirtless wonder is expected to re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers (who lost Mozgov and likely Matthew Dellavedova in free agency so far, although the Cavs can match the Delly offer). Things seemed quiet on the Smith front on Friday, no teams were public about trying to poach him, which is likely a good sign for his eventual return to Cleveland.

Rumor: Dwight Howard and Chris Paul stated intent to join Mavericks until Howard backed out

Chris Paul and Dwight Howard
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Mavericks went from winning the 2011 NBA championship to missing the playoffs within two years.

Somewhat by choice.

Of course, they wanted to remain competitive. But they were willing to accept a lower floor to maintain financial flexibility. They let key players – most notably Tyson Chandler – leave in order to chase bigger stars.

Dallas was repeatedly linked to Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, who could’ve become free agents in 2012 but opted in. They finally hit the market in 2013, but once again spurned the Mavericks. Paul re-signed with the Clippers, and Howard left the Lakers for the Rockets.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

I really think that they, Chris and Dwight, basically wink, wink said they were going to Dallas, from what I’ve heard, and that Dwight backed out.

Word on the street. But we hear a lot of stories. That’s one story I’ve heard.

This is the peril of making arrangements in underground free agency. They’re unbinding. That was especially true with Howard, who waffled through the Dwightmare with the Magic. The Mavericks might have proceeded in the smartest way, but it backfired. Dallas is only now re-emerging upward with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.

This also creates a fun “what if?” How good would Dallas have been? Paul remained elite, but Howard and Dirk Nowitzki were slipping. Where would the Clippers have gone with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan but without Paul? Would they still have held the credibility required to lure Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer? Where would Houston have turned without Howard as the star to pair with James Harden?

Serge Ibaka says he nearly goaltended Kawhi Leonard’s iconic shot: ‘I would’ve retired’

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Kawhi Leonard hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history – a buzzer-beater that bounced, bounced, bounced, bounced in during Game 7 of last year’s second-round Raptors-76ers series and propelled Toronto toward an eventual title.

Raptors forward Serge Ibaka, via Josh Lewenberg of TSN:

“I didn’t think it was going in. I was under the basket trying to go for the offensive rebound. The ball was bouncing and one time I was so close to going [for it]. Thank God I didn’t because it could have been goaltending. That would’ve been bad. I would’ve retired. If that had happened I would have retired.”

In hindsight, that would’ve been catastrophic. It would have been been bad at the time, too – but only so bad.

The Bucks, Toronto’s opponent in the Eastern Conference finals, looked better than the Raptors. The Western Conference-winning Warriors were widely viewed as invincible. Few would have thought Ibaka’s goaltend would’ve cost Toronto a championship.

Thankfully for him and the Raptors, we now know better.

Chris Paul refutes report that Michele Roberts is no longer leading union

Michele Roberts, Chris Paul and Luol Deng
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Michele Roberts got a new four-year term as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association in 2018.

Yet, Peter Vecsey tweeted:

The NBPA responded with a statement on behalf of Chris Paul:

NBPA President Chris Paul’s response to the false information tweeted earlier this evening regarding NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts:

“Michele Roberts has been and continues to be our fearless leader. The Twitter post that is circulating suggesting Michele is no longer the NBPA Executive Director is untrue. A Search Firm has been hired to advise on union hiring and succession planning, which has not yet begun. In the meantime, the Executive Committee is proud to report that Michele remains the NBPA Executive Director, is very much “in power,” and continues to enjoy the support of our members!”

Roberts led the union through Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations in 2016. She appears active in running the union now.

Controversially, Roberts rejected cap smoothing when the new national TV deals sent revenue soaring. That adversely affected many union members, though benefited others.

Roberts and Paul have also sometimes prioritized stars, to the dismay of the rank-and-file.

But the overall health of the union appears strong, and Roberts and Paul remain in charge.

‘Off the Dribble’ names All-Sneakerhead team (video)

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On the latest episode of “Off the Dribble,” Jacque Slade named his All-Sneakerhead team. Spoiler alert: The NBA’s shoe king – Rockets forward P.J. Tucker – made it.

Watch to see who else earned a spot.