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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.

Nets fans post ‘missing’ posters of Ben Simmons before Game 3 (PHOTO)

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Ben Simmons did not perform well in Game 1 against the Brooklyn Nets. The Philadelphia 76ers star posted a stat line of just eight points with seven rebounds, three blocks, and three steals.

More concerning was Simmons’ apparent lack of desire to shoot. He seemed to fade in the big moments of the game, and scorn came swiftly for him social media after the 76ers loss. Philly fans even booed the Sixers on the court, which angered Simmons.

But Game 3 is upon us, although Joel Embiid is not playing,  and the series has shifted back to New York. As expected, fans in Brooklyn are doing their best to troll the Sixers.

Via Twitter:

We will see how Simmons responds after all of the back and forth about booing, not to mention his whole thing with Jared Dudley. If Simmons wants to be a star, now is the time to step up for his team with Embiid out.

Joel Embiid out with left knee soreness for Game 3 vs. Nets

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The Philadelphia 76ers will be without Joel Embiid on Thursday night as they take on the Brooklyn Nets in Game 3 of their first round series.

Embiid is battling left knee soreness and although he had a statistically-important performance as the Sixers took Game 2, it was obvious he was in some kind of reduced state of ability.

Veteran center Greg Monroe will start in Embiid’s place, but it will be hard for the Sixers to match Embiid’s production. The Cameroonian star is Philadelphia’s best player, and the 76ers are a hot and cold team.

Not having Embiid on the floor will seriously alter how they respond to the spunky Nets, who already took Game 1 from the higher-seeded Sixers.

The fact that Embiid needs to rest is also drawing some ire from folks on social media. The question is why Embiid did not rest earlier in the series — or even the end of the regular season when he was in and out of the lineup — and prepare for the coming playoff run?

However things go on Thursday, folks around the league will have their eyes glued to the injury report to see updates on Embiid’s status.

Grizzlies’ Kyle Anderson undergoes thoracic outlet decompression surgery

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Kyle Anderson was playing a solid role off the bench for the Grizzlies this season, 8 points and 5.8 rebounds a game, serving as a secondary ball handler and shot creator. Slo-mo was doing his thing.

However, by the end of January, the pain radiating from his shoulder — something he now says he had been playing through for a couple of years — got to be too much. He never played another game after Jan. 30.

Thursday he had thoracic outlet decompression surgery to relieve the problem. Anderson is expected to make a full recovery and be ready to go next training camp.

For comparison, this is the same surgery the Lakers’ Brandon Ingram had.

Anderson is on a very reasonable contract, three years and $28 million remaining. He can be part of what is going to be built in Memphis going forward, but if they are tearing down and rebuilding — meaning a summer trade of Mike Conley — he could bring back assets in a trade.

Either way, he should be healthy and ready to go next summer.

Jerry West on NBA draft: ‘I don’t know how you could pass Zion Williamson’

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A rumor started buzzing around NBA Twitter last week, a second-hand report that NBA legend and Clippers’ consultant Jerry West was praising Murray State guard Ja Morant, saying he would take him in front of the presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson.

The source of that rumor: comedian Jeff Garlin, saying it on the Dan Patrick Show.

Jerry West himself went on the Dan Patrick show Thursday and shot that down saying “it Would Be Like Passing Jordan in the draft.”

Two players were picked in front Jordan in the 1984 Draft. The Houston Rockets took Hakeem Olajuwon, and while Jordan went on to be Jordan nobody can fault the Rockets for how this picked turned out — two titles and a Hall of Fame big man in your organization is an amazing draft.

The one everyone talks about was Portland at No. 2, when executive Stu Inman and coach Jack Ramsey decided they were set on the wing in Clyde Drexler and needed a big man, so they selected Sam Bowie out of Kentucky. Bowie might have had an excellent NBA career if injuries had not plagued him, but he was no Jordan. It’s the ultimate NBA cautionary tale — draft the best player on the board, not according to need.

Williamson is projected by teams as the best player on the board. By far. Even the Morant fans have him a clear second. Plus, Williamson comes in hugely popular and a brand unto himself — he will sell tickets and sponsorships. Not drafting him would be a stupid business decision, not to mention a basketball one.

Whoever lands second in next month’s draft lottery will do well with Morant. Whoever is third will likely get R.J. Barrett out of Duke and… let’s just say that’s where it gets interesting.