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Kawhi Leonard will reportedly wait to make his free agency decision

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Kawhi Leonard is going to ruin your 4th of July. Or make it, depending on who you root for. Book it right now.

The Toronto Raptors superstar has reportedly not met with any teams as free agency opened late on Sunday, and he is preparing to take his time to decide between the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Raptors.

It’s not like Leonard hasn’t had a chance to think about where he might play basketball for the past two years. What’s another 72-96 hours?

Still, there’s no impetus for Leonard to sign right now. He’s not required to do so, and the teams looking to add him to their roster will forego any other decisions until he picks a destination.

We’ve seen this happen before. Gordon Hayward waited until everyone in the collective NBA culturesphere was already six Whiteclaws deep on their uncle’s boat to announce via a Players’ Tribune article he was going to the Boston Celtics.

Leonard — because he is an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, shrouded by cornrows — will inevitably do the same. I can feel it in my bones.

Meanwhile, the prospects for who Leonard will play with has shrunk. The Clippers won’t have many options to add next to Leonard, with both Jimmy Butler and Al Horford finding new destinations in the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers, respectively.

Leonard’s only other chance to play with mega stars is by joining the Lakers, who have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. That doesn’t feel like the route he’s wanted to go, particularly given how much he seemed to enjoy being the top dog with the Raptors this year.

He would still get the cachet of living in Southern California by joining the Clippers, but have a similar structure as he has with the Raptors right now. L.A. has an excellent front office in place, and he should have real confidence in them building something around him for years to come.

Of course, Leonard could have dragged this whole thing out simply to return to Toronto, which Raptors fans would love. That’s a smart choice at this point given how they, you know, won the NBA Finals this year. But the Raptors will have a hard time staying together over Leonard’s next contract, and that team is getting older.

We still don’t know what Leonard will do even though Sunday was a flurry of activity with big name stars getting huge, max deals. We are once again sitting here on our thumbs, waiting for Leonard to make a decision so we can, finally, mercifully, stop talking about which team he plays for.

All I want to do on the Fourth of July is scarf a bratwurst and eat an amount of potato salad my cardiologist considers “alarming” but I’m going to assume Leonard makes his announcement in a few days when he can be the brightest firework of all.

Looks like we’re going to have to just hang tight until the Board Man decides where he gets paid.

Embiid scores career-high 49, 76ers beat Hawks 129-112

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PHILADELPHIAJoel Embiid scored a career-high 49 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, Tobias Harris had 25 points and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Atlanta Hawks 129-112 on Monday night.

Missing All-Star Ben Simmons for the second time in three games because of a back injury, the Sixers mixed up their starting lineup and got 15 points from Furkan Korkmaz in a reserve role.

Trae Young led Atlanta with 28 points despite missing nine of 11 from 3-point range. De'Andre Hunter added 22 and John Collins had 21 for the Hawks.

After trailing by 21 in the first half, the Hawks outscored Philadelphia 23-9 to start the third quarter. They closed out the period with an 8-0 run and took a 92-91 lead into the fourth after Young nailed a 3.

The Sixers went up to stay on four consecutive free throws by Embiid. Harris sank a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 105-98.

Embiid’s dunk and 19-footer put Philadelphia up by 15 with 3:08 left, and the All-Star center heard “MVP!” chants when he went to the foul line in the final minutes. Embiid made 14 of 15 free throws and 17 of 24 from the floor. He hit a 3 in the final minute to set his personal best. His previous high was 46 against the Lakers on Nov. 15, 2017.

Simmons only played five minutes in a loss at Milwaukee on Saturday before exiting. He had tests on Sunday and needs further evaluation.

Coach Brett Brown wouldn’t speculate on the extent of the injury or how long Simmons will be sidelined. But it appears the team is preparing to play without him for a while.

 

Moments we will never forget from Kobe Bryant’s memorial

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LOS ANGELES — “This morning was beautiful, it really was. It was emotional… You know what was interesting, if you looked around at all those people, it just brought people together.”

Doc Rivers, who coaches another team in a city he accurately described “brokenhearted,” summed up the feeling around Kobe Bryant’s memorial on Monday at Staples Center perfectly. It was a celebration for a basketball world — and a city in Los Angeles — that needed it.

It was filled with moments we will not forget.

Everything started with a soulful song from Beyoncé.

“I don’t know how Vanessa did it. I didn’t know that was possible,” Rivers said, encapsulating the feelings of everyone who watched Vanessa Bryant eulogize her husband and daughter with grace and beauty. It set the emotional tone for the day and was perfect.

Michael Jordan — the man that helped fuel Kobe and became his friend — spoke from his heart. He also had the funniest line of the day.

It it wasn’t MJ, it was Diana Taurasi who cracked up the crowd.

The same passion we all recognized in Kobe, obviously, Gigi inherited. Her skill was undeniable at an early age. I mean, who has a turn-away fade-away jumper at 11?

LeBron barely got it today.

When the event ended, former players and coaches hung out in Staples Center for more than an hour, just talking and reminiscing. Outside Staples, thousands of fans did the same thing.

Kobe Bryant touched so many lives in positive ways. That, more than anything, is his true legacy. And what was celebrated on Monday.

Report: Former NBA player Jonathon Simmons to sign with G-League

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CNBC’s Jabari Young reports that former NBAer Jonathon Simmons will sign with the G-League:

Simmons last played in the NBA in 2018-19 with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers acquired Simmons from the Orlando Magic are the 2019 trade deadline. Following the season, Simmons was traded again, this time to the Washington Wizards in a deal designed to shed some salary off Philadelphia’s cap sheet.

Simmons is no stranger to working his way to the NBA from the G-League. He once paid a $150 fee to attend an open tryout for players trying to make the then D-League. Simmons made it and was allocated to the Austin Spurs.

After two years in Austin, Simmons was signed to a training camp contract with the San Antonio Spurs. He spent the next two seasons in San Antonio before signing with Orlando as a free agent in 2017. At the 2019 trade deadline, Orlando sent Simmons to Philadelphia, along with a first round pick, for former number one overall pick Markelle Fultz.

Players sign with the G-League itself vs individual teams. They are then allocated to teams through a variety of methods. According to Young, Simmons is expected to ultimately land with the Santa Cruz Warriors. Santa Cruz has a good track record of getting players called up to the NBA, which is probably what attracted Simmons to agree to play for them.

Lakers, DeMarcus Cousins reportedly may talk new contract next summer

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Sunday, the Lakers waived DeMarcus Cousins to clear out a roster space for Markieff Morris. Cousins was signed last July to be the team’s starting center, but he tore his ACL in training and has not stepped on the court this season. It wasn’t personal, it was business, and under the terms of the CBA Cousins can continue his rehab in the Lakers’ practice facilities.

Cousins may be officially gone, but he could return next season to the Lakers, reports Joe Varden at The Athletic.

But the Lakers could re-sign him this summer, something both sides have expressed interest in pursuing, sources said.

This would be another one-year minimum contract deal, and it makes sense for both sides. Dwight Howard is a free agent and, after a resurgent (but not elite) season in Los Angeles, likely will get offers for more than the Lakers can pay him. JaVale McGee has a $4.2 million player option. Whatever McGee decides, the Lakers will be looking for another big man (and maybe two). Cousins could step right in.

What he can offer on the court coming off a torn Achilles and ACL remains to be seen, but the Lakers will not ask a lot of their centers. Cousins is a two-time All-NBA, four-time All-Star player who should still be able to give the Lakers some solid minutes in the paint.

The Lakers will keep their options open, but don’t be surprised if the two sides reunite.