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NBA NotebookSixers plans may rest on Lakers moves

First Posted: 11:11 pm - June 23rd, 2015 Updated: 11:11 pm - June 23rd, 2015.

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Duke’s Jahlil Okafor (15) dunks the ball against Michigan State during the second half of the NCAA Final Four national semifinal college basketball game in Indianapolis in this April 4 file photo. What the Los Angeles Lakers do with the No. 2 pick could determine what the Philadelphia 76ers do.

The 76ers have said they’ll select the best available player Thursday with the third overall pick in the NBA draft.

As a result, their selection could be determined by the players that the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers pick ahead of them.

The Timberwolves have told Kentucky power forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns they’ll select him with the first overall pick, according to the New York website SNY.tv. After that, things are unclear.

For weeks, the popular belief was that the Lakers would pick Duke center Jahlil Okafor at No. 2 if Towns wasn’t available. According to ESPN, there’s an 80 percent chance that Okafor lands in Los Angeles. However, Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell could still be a solid candidate for the Lakers.

The Sixers wouldn’t mind if Okafor went second. That’s because the expectation is that they’ll take Russell with the third pick.

We may not find out what the Lakers will do until they make their selection Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

But the Timberwolves reportedly have told Towns he’s going first.

“It’s done, he’s going to Minnesota,” a source told SNY.tv. “[Minnesota president and coach] Flip Saunders was big on Jahlil Okafor for a minute there, and after Karl came in [on Saturday], he decided to work out for them. He only worked out for them and it’s a wrap. It’s a wrap. They just told him they’re going to take him No. 1.”

To make room, the Timberwolves reportedly are shopping power forward Anthony Bennett.

Minnesota also worked out Okafor, Russell and former China Basketball Association point guard Emmanuel Mudiay last week.

Okafor, Russell, and Mudiay also worked out for the Lakers during the pre-draft process. So did Kristaps Porzingis, a 7-foot-1 power forward from Latvia. The team recently brought back Okafor and Mudiay for second workouts.

“For us, we have some holes to fill. So it’s not like we only have one need,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said last month on The Jim Rome Show. “We have three or four different needs we need to fill. Obviously in this draft, you’ve got two great bigs and you’ve got a great point guard in Russell as well. We’ve got to wait and see what Minnesota does. So we are going to do our due diligence to bring them in and work them out and go from there.”

Last original employee of NBA’s 1st season, dies

PHILADELPHIA — Harvey Pollack, the last original employee of the NBA’s inaugural season to still be working in the league, has died. He was 93.

Pollack died on Tuesday. Pollack worked for the Philadelphia 76ers at the time of his death, spending the past 28 years as the team’s director of statistical information.

In 1946, Pollack began his career with the Philadelphia Warriors of the Basketball Association of America, which later merged with the National Basketball League to form the National Basketball Association, as the team’s assistant publicity director.

Cavs pick up 2016 option for Mozgov

CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers made their first move of the summer, the easiest one.

As expected, the team picked up the $5 million option on center Timofey Mozgov’s contract for next season on Tuesday.

There was never a doubt the Cavs would bring back the 7-foot-1 center, acquired in a January trade from Denver in exchange for two first-round draft picks.

Mozgov transformed the Cavs on defense, giving them a rim-protecting big man after Anderson Varejao was lost for the season with an Achilles injury.

Mozgov, who will turn 29 in a few weeks, averaged a career-high 10.6 points and 6.9 rebounds in 45 regular-season starts. He became a needed offensive option during the postseason when Kevin Love sustained a playoff-ending shoulder injury. And Mozgov responded by averaging 10.6 points and 7.3 rebounds in 20 postseason starts.

Kings’ Karl reportedly wants to trade Cousins

There was already reason for DeMarcus Cousins to be wary of George Karl.

He undoubtedly heard the stories from other players around the league that Karl’s ego was huge and that he didn’t like coaching star players.

Cousins privately feared Karl would want to trade him.

Then came Karl offering the following — unsolicited — when talking about the offseason in the Kings’ final home game April 13:

“I’ve had some great players, and I never had one player that I’ve said is untradeable. You’ve always got to be ready for the possibility of a great trade.”

James says he’s been in funk since losing Finals

The King is in a funk.

NBA star LeBron James broke his social media radio silence on Tuesday to thank his fans for their support and also share that he has been feeling blue since his Cleveland Cavaliers lost in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors earlier in the month.

“It hurt to lose. I’ve been in a funk lately, but this … this is what motivates me to do what I do,” James wrote on his verified Facebook page, which has an audience of almost 22 million people. “How can I ever be down when I know my kids and my fans have my back?”

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