Welcome to TSN.ca's NBA Rumours Blog as the Assocation gears up for free agency. Today, the Houston Rockets are looking to divest themselves of salary and grab picks in order to make a run at Jimmy Butler.

Rockets gearing up for run at Butler

Daryl Morey is swinging for the fences.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe report that the Houston Rockets are positioning themselves to make a run at impending Philadelphia 76ers free agent and Houston native Jimmy Butler through a sign-and-trade.

To do so, the team is offering the trio of Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker in separate deals to teams with the cap space required to absorb that kind of salary. The team would then use the best available first in any of those deals towards a trade with the Sixers for Butler.

Capela, 25, is heading into the second year of a five-year, $90 million deal. Tucker, 34, has one year remaining at $8.35 million and a player option for 2020-21 at just under $8 million. The 30-year-old Gordon heads into the final year of his four-year contract with just over $14 million owed.

Still, the Sixers - as of now - don't appear to be moving on from Butler. Wojnarowski notes that the team remains confident of retaining Butler and their other key free agent, Tobias Harris.

Butler, acquired early last season from the Minnesota Timberwolves, appeared in 55 games for the Sixers. He averaged 18.2 points on .461 shooting, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 33.2 minutes a night for Philly.

Durant declines option

Had this happened prior to Kevin Durant tearing his Achilles during the NBA Finals, nobody would have batted an eye, but Wojnarowski reports that the Golden State Warriors forward has declined his $31.5 million player option and will become an unrestricted free agent.

Why some might consider this a surprise now is because Durant will miss a vast majority, if not all, of next season and the thinking of some is that the 30-year-old Washington, DC native would take the security of the one year remaining and embark on free agency again next summer. The move signals that Durant and his representation believe that, despite the injury, suitors will be undeterred in wanting the services of the 2014 NBA MVP.

While Durant has been heavily tipped to re-sign with the Warriors, the 10-time All-Star has also been attached to the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks in recent days.

A sign-and-trade for Durant is most likely out of the question.

No Horford in NOLA?

On Monday, Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher reported that the New Orleans Pelicans could quietly be a potential destination for impending free agent Al Horford of the Boston Celtics.

Widely praised for his leadership, the 33-year-old Horford would be an ideal mentor for the incoming Zion Williamson to assist his transition to the pro game, but Marc Stein doesn't believe that Horford is headed to the Big Easy.

The New York Time scribe tweeted on Monday that the rumoured mystery suitor for the five-time All-Star is not, in fact, the Pelicans.

Horford is widely expected to sign a four-year, $112 million deal when free agency opens after opting out of his Celtics contract.

The Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers have been attached to Horford ever since word of his opt-out broke.

Boogie on Broadway?

Prior to the NBA Draft Lottery, New York Knicks fans were salivating at the prospects of their own Big 3 of Zion Williamson, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving playing for the club this fall.

Since then, however, things have changed significantly. The Knicks failed to win the lottery and pick first in last week's draft (instead taking Williamson's Duke teammate RJ Barrett at three), Durant tore his Achilles and Irving appears to be set for a move across the bridge with the Brooklyn Nets.

Still, the Knicks remain undaunted when it comes to their attempts to land lucrative free agents.

In a feature on the Knicks' management team for the Undefeated, Marc J. Spears went on a deep dive into who the Knicks might be targeting with their two max deal slots.

While the team still hopes for the big fish of Irving, Durant, Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors and the Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker, they've also identified secondary targets including the Morris twins and Warriors big man DeMarcus Cousins.

"We are going to have the opportunity to meet with the guys we want to meet with," Knicks GM Steve Mills told Spears.

Cousins, 28, is coming off of a one-year deal with the Dubs signed last summer after tearing his Achilles in January of 2018 as a member of the Pelicans.

He appeared in 30 games for the team this season, averaging 16.3 points on .480 shooting, 8.2 boards and 3.6 assists in 25.7 minutes a night.

Cousins tore a quadriceps muscle in Game 2 of the team's first-round series against the Clippers, but returned to play in all six of the team's NBA Finals games against the Raptors.

Bulls cut ties with Asik

Omer Asik's NBA career could be over, but his Chicago Bulls tenure most certainly is.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reports the NBA has removed the 32-year-old forward's deal from their books due to career-ending injury. The move will free up $3 million in space and give them $23 million of available cap room.

A native of Bursa, Turkey, Asik did not play at all last season due to complications from Crohn's Disease. His contract was traded to the Bulls from the Pelicans at the 2018 trade deadline as part of the deal for Nikola Mirotic.

Asik spent eight seasons in the NBA with the Bulls, Houston Rockets and Pelicans.

Wright qualified by Grizz

No surprise at all, but the Memphis Grizzlies have issued a qualifying offer to guard Delon Wright, reports Charania.

Wright, 27, was acquired from the Raptors at the trade deadline as part of the Marc Gasol deal.

Once in Memphis, Wright got a considerable increase in playing time and started 11 games - four more than he started in all four seasons in Toronto.

In 26 games with the Grizzlies, Wright averaged 12.2 points on .434 shooting, 5.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 30.3 minutes a night.

The Grizzlies will now have the right to match any offer received by the Utah product.