Hawks land All-Star G Murray from Spurs

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

(AP) -- Let the talking begin. The trading, too, and eventually the signing.

Free agency officially opens Thursday in the NBA, with teams able to begin negotiating at 6 p.m. Eastern with players who are not under contract - although, in reality, free agency and the slew of offseason movement is already off and running.

James Harden declined his $47 million option for next season with Philadelphia on Wednesday and became a free agent - but told the team he intends to stay on a new deal that will allow the 76ers the flexibility they need to sign other players this summer, according to a person with direct knowledge of that situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither Harden nor the 76ers confirmed those plans publicly.

Harden declines $47M option with 76ers

James Harden is taking less with hopes the Philadelphia 76ers can do more.

A person familiar with the situation said Harden chose not to exercise his $47.4 million option for next season and will become a free agent - but with no designs on leaving Philadelphia. Harden made the decision to allow the 76ers the flexibility they need to sign other players this summer, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side confirmed those plans publicly. (MORE)

Big 12 tabs Roc Nation's Yormark commish

DALLAS (AP) Brett Yormark, an executive with Jay-Z's Roc Nation and former CEO of the Brooklyn Nets, was named Big 12 commissioner Wednesday, another unconventional hire by a major conference amid the rapidly changing landscape of college athletics.

Yormark is taking over for Bob Bowlsby, who came to the league a decade ago after stints as athletic director at Stanford, Iowa and Northern Iowa. (MORE)

Bates leaving Memphis for E. Michigan

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) Emoni Bates, one of the top recruits in the 2021 men's basketball recruiting class, says he is transferring from Memphis to Eastern Michigan.

Bates, in an Instagram post Wednesday, announced his decision to return to his hometown of Ypsilanti to play for the Eagles of the Mid-American Conference.An EMU spokesman said he could not confirm Bates' transfer. (MORE)

Murray, Ruud, Kontaveit out at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) The recurring cries of "Come on, Andy!" at Centre Court meandered somewhere along the continuum from pushing to pleading as two-time champion Andy Murray's shortest stay at Wimbledon came to a close.

Unable to overcome big John Isner's big serves, the way he always has in the past, the revered Murray lost in the second round to the 20th-seeded American 6-4, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (3), 6-4 on Wednesday night at the All England Club, capping a disappointing afternoon and evening in the grass-court Grand Slam tournament's main stadium for the locals. (MORE)

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