Ramona Shelburne says that out of respect to the organization, Kevin Durant needs to take a meeting with the Lakers. Amin Elhassan breaks down Durant's supposed itinerary for when he does meet with the team.

Amin Elhassan reacts to Chris Broussard's report that Kevin Durant has no desire to meet with the Lakers.

Angels slugger Albert Pujols shares why he is inspired by the recently retired Kobe Bryant.

Take a look at stare kid and his repertoire of expressions as he reacts to various blunders happening around the sports world.

Kevin Durant will meet with his current team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, on Thursday, according to league sources.

NBA rules preclude any team -- even the incumbent Thunder -- from discussing contract specifics with Durant or any free agent before 12:01 a.m. on July 1. ‎Thursday's discussions with his current employer, however, are more likely to be focused on team direction and broader topics to meet league guidelines.

Durant, who is currently in Los Angeles filming a TV commercial, will fly to Oklahoma City with agent Rich Kleiman on Wednesday night for the meeting, sources said.

The 27-year-old Durant has spent his entire nine-year career with the Thunder franchise. He averaged 28.2 points per game this past season and led the Thunder to within one victory of the NBA Finals.

He will then fly to New York to meet with the remaining five teams on his list over the first few days of July. His first meeting on the morning of July 1 will be with the Golden State Warriors.

Durant, the most coveted free agent on the market, will also meet with the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers.

Sources tell ESPN that the Spurs' meeting with Durant is Saturday.

Free agents can't sign a new contract until July 8.

The New York Knicks

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For years, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics battled each other for NBA championships.

Now, the two teams are again competing against each other, this time for a building block that both teams think could help return their teams to their former glory.

Al Horford's Atlanta Hawks beat the Boston Celtics in the NBA playoffs this year, but the organization hasn't held that against the center from the Dominican Republic. If anything, his play in that series against Celtic stars like Isaiah Thomas may have convinced the Celtics of Horford's worth. They are in hot pursuit of the free agent.

For their part, the Lakers boast a collection of young players like Brandon Ingram and D'Angelo Russell who could benefit from Horford's leadership. That's part of why the team is interested. Horford, 30, averaged over 15 points and 7 rebounds last season and he's a four-time NBA All-Star.

Whether Horford eventually decides to stay in Atlanta or sign elsewhere, his new contract will likely be the highest ever paid to a Latino player in NBA history. Free agents can begin talks with other teams on July 1.

Click here to keep up with all the NBA action with ESPN.

Hassan Whiteside presents free agency's most interesting dilemma. Does it make sense to commit max money to a player who was out of the NBA 20 months ago?

In search of the next DeMarre Carroll

June, 29, 2016
Jun 29

Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

It's time for our annual search for what some team executives used to call the "next DeMarre Carroll" -- guys with NBA track record so limited,smart teams might be able to swipe them on the cheap.

Our list last year included Bismack Biyombo, Mirza Teletovic, Ed Davis, Corey Joseph, Will Barton, Derrick Williams, Jonas Jerebko and some other success stories, plus some semi-busts such as Kyle O'Quinn.

The unprecedented $20 million-plus leap in the salary cap ahead of next season makes the scavenger hunt tougher. There are not enough quality free agents to soak up the money; some teams will splurge on a no-names just to hit the minimum salary floor, or punt the floor altogether. Tested veterans such as D.J. Augustin will not be sitting there waiting for minimum contracts.

Guys entering free agency today with resumes equivalent to what Biyombo, Davis and Teletovic carried a year ago are going to get paid a ton. There is no point in putting Kent Bazemore, Allen Crabbe, Ian Mahinmi or Jerebko (if Boston lets him walk) on this list; those guys are going to bank $10 million per season or, in at least Bazemore's case, much more.

You have to dig deeper to find a real bargain, which means your chances of hitting go down. These are worse players, and some of them will bank crazy one- and two-year deals from teams desperate to unload cash on any leftover free agent with potential.

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Kevin DurantLayne Murdoch/NBA/Getty ImagesPart of the Lakers' pitch to Kevin Durant will be the ability to team with another top-tier free agent, a source said.

Despite not being on the list of teams scheduled to meet with free-agent forward Kevin Durant, the Los Angeles Lakers have not abandoned their hopes of landing him, according to a person with knowledge of the club's thinking.

The Lakers intend to contact Durant and his representatives July 1 and are confident they will get a meeting, the source said.

"I can't imagine Durant wouldn't talk to us," the source said. "That would shock me."

According to ESPN sources and media reports, Durant is scheduled to meet with the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers, beginning July 1, the first day free agents are allowed to talk with teams other than their own.

The Vertical reported Tuesday night that those meetings will take place Friday and Saturday in the Hamptons on Long Island.

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Kobe Bryant meditates on retirement in Taiwan

June, 28, 2016
Jun 28
By One Nacin

Mindful of oneself. Finding one's center ... and we're not talking Shaquille O'Neal.

That's what Kobe Bryant was doing on his recent trip to Taiwan.

Bryant was in Taiwan recently, and the NBA's Taiwan edition of their website revealed Bryant took time out to participate in a meditation retreat.

Of course, the former Los Angeles Lakers star isn't just spending time in meditation. He's running basketball camps in China with athletic hopefuls as well. Bryant's popularity around the world is due to his embracing of multiple cultures. He is married to a Mexican-American, Vanessa, and speaks Italian and Spanish.

Bryant is considered the most famous NBA player in China (as documented in ESPN's World Fame 100). He also found time to spend with other famous people in China, namely action star Jackie Chan.

Thank you Jackie for a great dinner in Beijing!

A photo posted by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on

Fame has its pressures, but there are also pleasures, as well.

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Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak explains what Los Angeles is looking for in free agency.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak breaks down what Brandon Ingram will bring to the team and which areas he needs to improve as he transitions to the NBA.

DeMar DeRozanSteve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty ImagesThe Raptors are the only franchise DeMar DeRozan has played for in his seven-year NBA career.

Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan does not plan to schedule meetings with other teams at the start of free agency, opting to focus on working out a contract to return to the Eastern Conference finalists, a source told

DeRozan, 26, a two-time All-Star who led the Raptors with 23.5 points per game last season, has been consistent in stating that his strong preference is to remain with the only franchise he has played for during his seven-year NBA career.

"My mindset has always been Toronto," DeRozan told reporters the day after the Raptors were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers. "I've always preached it. I was passionate about it when we were losing, when we were terrible. I said I was going to stick through this whole thing, and I want to be that guy who brings this organization to where it is now. I definitely don't want to switch that up after we win."

DeRozan, arguably the top shooting guard in free agency, would be in high demand if he chose to explore his options beginning July 1. However, the source said the unrestricted free agent would only look into meeting with other teams if talks with Toronto broke down.

The Raptors can offer DeRozan a five-year maximum contract worth $153 million with the salary cap at a projected $94 million. Other teams would be able to offer him a max deal of $114 million over four years.

Toronto's decision-makers have made it clear that re-signing DeRozan, a southern California native whose name was often linked to the Los Angeles Lakers

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The Los Angeles Lakers plan to aggressively pursue Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside when NBA free agency starts, according to league sources.

With rim protection and perimeter shooting ranking as the Lakers' foremost areas of concern heading into the open market, sources told ESPN that Whiteside has emerged as a priority target.

The Lakers, like the Heat, are still hopeful of securing a face-to-face recruiting meeting with Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant once free agency begins at 12:01 a.m. ET July 1. But the Lakers, sources say, are highly intrigued by Whiteside and what he could bring them as a double-double presence inside.

ESPN reported earlier this week that the Mavericks also intend to be a serious suitor for Whiteside, with Dallas expected to land one of the first recruiting meetings Whiteside conducts in the opening hours of free agency. The Portland Trail Blazers are another team that has been linked with Whiteside, and there will surely be others.

After averaging 14.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and a league-leading 3.7 blocks per game last season, Whiteside is expected to command a maximum contract, with a first-season salary forecast in the $22 million range.

"More than likely, players out there in free agency, our No. 1 priority is Hassan Whiteside," Heat president Pat Riley told reporters after the season.

ESPN also reported this week that that Lakers, Orlando Magic

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Kobe Bryant
17.6 2.8 0.9 28.2
ReboundsJ. Randle 10.2
AssistsM. Huertas 3.4
StealsD. Russell 1.2
BlocksR. Hibbert 1.4