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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.

Jamal Murray throws himself off-backboard alley-oop in traffic (video)

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Jamal Murray‘s performance since signing a max contract extension? Uneven.

But this play during the Nuggets’ win over the Thunder yesterday? Brilliant.

Caught picking up his dribble and seemingly well-defended, Murray flipped the ball off the backboard then finished his own alley-oop.

That’s obviously a flashy move, but it’s also an effective one more players should use. The backboard can be an effective weapon for passing, especially for a player to himself, when he knows exactly where he’s putting the ball and can get a step ahead of the defense.

Brandon Clarke bullies Ian Mahinmi with monster dunk (video)

Brandon Clarke
AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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How wild is it that the Grizzlies have two rookies who can dunk like this?

After Ja Morant threw down a jump-out-of-your-seat jam over Aron Baynes a few days ago, Brandon Clarke just made Ian Mahinmi — a good rim protector — look helpless in Memphis’ win over the Wizards yesterday.

Add Jaren Jackson Jr., and the Grizzlies are onto something with their young core.

Patty Mills hits game-winner in Spurs’ NBA-record fourth straight OT game (video)

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.

But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.

Popovich, via ESPN:

“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.

And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.

 

Report: Luka Doncic might return to Mavericks within a couple weeks

Luka Doncic
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.

Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.

Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.

Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.

But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.