Philadelphia 76ers

NBA rumors: Two teams have 'backed off' Kevin Durant pursuit due to Achilles

NBA rumors: Two teams have 'backed off' Kevin Durant pursuit due to Achilles

NBA free agency officially will kick off Sunday, and most of the free-agent crop likely will await the decision of one Kevin Durant before choosing their next move.

The Warriors' star forward ruptured his Achilles during Game 5 of Golden State's NBA Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors and will miss all of next season as he rehabs what could be a career-altering injury.

While it has been reported that the injury won't affect Durant's free agency, a couple of would-be suitors reportedly have dialed back their interest following the injury, Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher reported Monday.

"One league executive said the Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers, who were both at one point interested, have backed off their pursuit because they are focused on building off their playoff success this past season," Bucher writes.

Durant's options always have appeared to be between staying with the Warriors or leaving for the bright lights of New York -- whether it be the Knicks or the Brooklyn Nets -- so perhaps this is more of two teams realizing they had zero shot at the two-time NBA Finals MVP, and therefore are best served by moving on to other targets.

[RELATED: Report: KD 'really pissed' at Warriors entering free agency]

With the Clippers and 76ers reportedly out of the picture, that leaves three teams with a realistic shot at landing Durant. Although, if you ask Andre Iguodala, the Knicks and Nets should just give up their dreams of landing the 2014 NBA MVP.

Golden State has a big decision on its hands when it pertains to Durant, and the Warriors reportedly have discussed the possibility of orchestrating a "delayed sign-and-trade" with Durant. The idea is to give Durant the max contract, allow him to rehab and then trade him where he wants to play, which would allow the Dubs to acquire assets for one of the NBA's best players, should he inform them that he wants to leave.

Many free agency dominoes are set to fall this summer, and Durant's decision should be the first one in a wild summer.

NBA rumors: LeBron James already recruiting Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler

NBA rumors: LeBron James already recruiting Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler

Say what you will about LeBron James, but he's no fool.

The three-time NBA champion knows that despite the promise his Los Angeles Lakers showed early on this season, they have a long way to go to catch the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors.

So, with a historic free-agent class set to hit the market July 1, James reportedly has already started putting in work with some of the biggest stars who will be available this offseason, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Thursday.

"Have you seen the Lakers' roster at the moment?" Windhorst said on "Pardon The Interruption." "I don't think LeBron is in position to be too picky. From what I understand, he has already begun the recruiting process. I've heard he has had contact with Kawhi Leonard. I've heard he's had contact with Jimmy Butler. There's no tampering enforcement with players ... LeBron is Tamperer-in-Chief of the Lakers right now."

Spicy,

Leonard and Butler are just two of the big names set to hit the market this summer. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both are expected to opt out of their contract and become free agents, while Klay Thompson, Tobias Harris and Kemba Walker also will be available. 

The Lakers have been such a mess lately, it seems like their best options are to hope Irving wants a reunion with James or that Butler didn't enjoy playing with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons during his brief stint with the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Most expect Leonard to leave Toronto for Los Angeles, just not for the Lakers. The Clippers have long been seen as the front-runners to sign the 2014 NBA Finals MVP, but it's hard to count out the lure of playing with James and trying to bring an NBA title back to the Lakers' franchise.

Durant doesn't appear to be an option for the Lakers and most believe Thompson will re-sign with the Warriors.

Harris or Walker could be a "break glass in case of emergency" option for the Purple and Gold.

[RELATED: How KD's early Final absence affects Warriors' matchups]

If the Lakers are unable to land a marquee free agent, they will once again have to turn to the trade market as a way to try and level the playing field with Golden State.

But if the Lakers can't get LeBron the help he needs, it could be another long year in Tinseltown.

NBA draft lottery 2019: Kings troll 76ers after pick goes to Celtics

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AP

NBA draft lottery 2019: Kings troll 76ers after pick goes to Celtics

For the second time in three days, the balls didn't bounce the Philadelphia 76ers' way.

On Sunday, it was the basketball on Kawhi Leonard's series-ending shot. On Tuesday, the ping-pong balls gave the Kings' 2019 first-round pick to the Boston Celtics, not the 76ers.

The Kings social media team combined the two moments to troll the 76ers.

The 76ers didn't waste time clapping back, taking a shot at the Kings' playoff drought.

To refresh your memory, the Kings included their 2019 first-round pick in the Nik Stauskas trade in 2015. Then Philadelphia included rights to that pick in the Markelle Fultz-Jayson Tatum draft night trade two years ago.

The stipulations Tuesday night were this: If the ping-pong balls had pick anywhere between No. 2 and No. 14, Boston got the selection. If the ping-pong balls somehow defied the odds and landed at No. 1, Philly would get the pick.

[RELATED: What Pelicans winning lottery means]

When NBA Deputy Commission Mark Tatum opened the first envelope, he pulled out a card with the Celtics logo on it. The Sixers were out of luck.

That's when the Kings pounced.