Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons will not play for Australia at this year's FIBA World Cup, though he will feature in exhibition games against the United States.

After initially making himself available for August's World Cup in China, Simmons announced on Tuesday that he will skip the tournament and instead focus on the upcoming NBA season with the 76ers.

While he is set to sit out the World Cup, Simmons will travel to Australia for a pair of games against Canada in Perth on August 16 and 17 before facing Team USA in Melbourne on August 22 and 24.

"I wanted to let everyone know that after consulting with my representation, I've made the difficult decision to forego playing in the World Cup in China this summer," Simmons – who has signed a new five-year contract with the 76ers – said in a statement via Twitter.

"I will still be heading back home to Australia to host my camps as well as train and play with the Boomers in the upcoming exhibition games.

"I'm really excited about the talent we have on the Boomers squad, especially moving close to 2020 where I will be honoured and humbled to represent my country on the world's biggest sporting stage at the Olympics in Tokyo.

"Ultimately, we decided it was best that I use the time in September to return to Philadelphia to acquaint myself with my new team-mates and prepare for the upcoming NBA season."

The 76ers selected Simmons with the first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and he has played a large role in the team's resurgence as an oversized, do-it-all playmaker.

Philadelphia put together one of the most talented starting line-ups in basketball last season, featuring Simmons, Joel Embiid, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris as they finished third in the Eastern Conference before falling to the Toronto Raptors in the second round.

The 76ers lost Butler and Redick this offseason, but acquired Josh Richardson and Al Horford, giving them tremendous defensive potential.

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis does not have any regrets about his trade request and departure from the New Orleans Pelicans. 

Davis will team up with Lakers superstar LeBron James in 2019-20 after finally arriving from the Pelicans in a blockbuster trade.

A six-time All-Star, Davis requested a trade away from New Orleans and the Pelicans attempted to deal him before February's deadline but failed.

When asked if he wished he did it any differently, Davis told ESPN: "No. I wish I did it the way I did it."

"I'm a person who's very upfront and honest," he said. "You know, I want to tell you what it is. I love the city of New Orleans, but from a professional standpoint and occupation in basketball, I felt like it was time for me to move on.

"I see a lot of people that say 'wait' or 'you should have did it this way, that way.' But for me, I've been in the league long enough. I'm a grown man. I know what I want. And so I thought doing it at that time was definitely going to be beneficial for myself and for the organisation to get the best package available, so that way the organisation is still set."

Davis went on to say he wanted to have complete control over his situation and did not want other people's opinions to affect his career.

"Because I allowed people to tell me what to do and advise me to do this or that," the 26-year-old added. "And now, by me being able to take control of my career, any decision that I make, you know — I can sleep at night. I'm good.

"That was the biggest thing for me. I was having a lot of regrets and thinking, I should have done it my way. Or, I should have done this differently. But now it's like, when I do it my way — I'm able to sleep at night and not care what other people's opinions are."

Since the addition of Davis, the Lakers have made big changes to their roster during free agency to complement both him and James.

Davis revealed Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka called "every 30 to 45 minutes" during the free-agency period to get his input on players.

"Sometimes I had to tell him, like, 'Rob, I'm in the movies.' He'd be like, 'All right, well, call me as soon as you get out,'" Davis said. "But we're trying to put the best team around us, and I think he did a great job of doing it."

Ben Simmons has officially agreed to a new long-term deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, the team announced on Tuesday.

The Sixers confirmed a five-year extension, starting in 2020, but did not reveal the terms of the contract - reported to be a max deal worth $170million.

Simmons, who turns 23 on Saturday, was in the last year of his rookie contract.

"Ben Simmons is an important piece of our core and he is one of the NBA's most dynamic and talented young players," general manager Elton Brand said.

"It was a priority for our organisation that we finalise a contract extension with Ben this summer. He was Rookie of the Year in his first season, an All-Star in his second and we expect him to continue grow and succeed for seasons to come.

"Ben positively impacts the game in so many ways and we look forward to continuing our championship pursuits with him as one of our leaders."

The Australian was drafted by Philadelphia with the number one overall pick in 2016 but missed his entire rookie season due to a foot injury.

Simmons finished last season averaging 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game and helped lead the Sixers to the second round of the playoffs, where they were agonisingly beaten by eventual champions the Toronto Raptors.

After Giannis Antetokounmpo's 2018-19 season was capped off with a first – winning the MVP award – the Milwaukee Bucks star completed yet another first in a completely different sport.

Antetokounmpo had never before touched a baseball, but that changed at Yankee Stadium on Monday.

The forward towered over the Yankees' players as he got to see the field and also take a few swings in the batting cage.

It took a few tries at first. Antetokounmpo swung and missed and barely made contact on his next few attempts, but then he finally hit the ball off the tee, which caused the players who were watching to cheer.

Antetokounmpo, who was in town with his brothers promoting his new signature shoe, also watched the team's batting practice as New York prepared to host Tampa Bay.

Kevin Durant "wanted to try something different" after leaving for the Brooklyn Nets, according to Golden State Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers.

Durant ended his three-year association with the Warriors after two NBA titles, signing with the Nets via free agency this offseason.

Myers was asked about Durant's decision to leave the Bay Area when he met with reporters on Monday.

"The one thing I'd share is, he just felt like, it was something inside of him, in his heart, that he wanted to try something different," Myers said.

"Nothing wrong with that. I'm at peace about it, personally, I hope our fans are, too. He was one of the best athletes to come through our city, certainly this organisation."

Durant won two titles and two Finals MVPs during his time with the Warriors. He averaged 26.0 points and 6.4 rebounds last season but ruptured his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors.

The 10-time All-Star is expected to miss most, if not all, of 2019-20.

"I just appreciate [him]," Myers said. "Growing up here, the fact that Kevin Durant wore a Warriors uniform for three years, to me, that's pretty cool, whether I'm here in the position I'm in, or just a Warriors fan. I think for him, it was just a new chapter."

Warriors co-chairman and CEO Joe Lacob announced earlier this month the team were effectively retiring Durant's jersey.

"Three years ago, we were thrilled with the arrival of Kevin Durant," Lacob said in a statement. "He provided our fans and franchise with numerous highlights during his stay here ... and carried himself with class and dignity both on and off the court.

"As he starts a new chapter in his incredible career, we thank KD for all of his contributions, for being an integral part to one of the most prolific runs in NBA history and wish him well as he continues his Hall of Fame journey. As long as I am co-chairman of this team, no player will ever wear No. 35 for the Warriors again."

Kyrie Irving left the Boston Celtics and joined Durant at the Nets this offseason, while the Warriors signed D'Angelo Russell.

The Golden State Warriors have no immediate plans to trade D'Angelo Russell.

Warriors president Bob Myers on Monday addressed rumours that the team want to trade the 23-year-old guard in the near future.

Russell, who was acquired in a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets, is expected to start in the Warriors' backcourt alongside Stephen Curry in 2019-20. Klay Thompson will likely miss most of the season recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) he suffered in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

There is speculation Russell will hit the trading block once Thompson is back in good shape, but Myers insists Golden State are focusing on the present.

"We didn't sign him with the intention of just trading him," Myers told reporters. "We haven't even seen him play in our uniform yet and a lot of people have us already trading him.

"That's not how we're viewing it. Let's just see what we have. Let's see what he is. Let's see how he fits. Part of our job in the front office and the coaching staff and organisation is how does it all work.

"So much of our sport is what are you doing next. We've got to figure out what we're doing now. And that applies to a guy like D'Angelo in that there's speculation that we're moving him when we haven't even seen him play.

"We're just happy that we got a young player that has a lot of upside in our opinion."

Russell became an All-Star for the first time last season and averaged career highs in points (21.1) and assists (7.0) per game. He signed a four-year, $117million deal last month.

Ben Simmons has reportedly agreed to a max deal with the Philadelphia 76ers that will pay him $170million over five years.

Agent Rich Paul is said to have confirmed the agreement to The Athletic and ESPN on Monday. 

Simmons, 22, was in the last year of his rookie contract and was slated to make $8.1m in the 2019-20 season.

It will mark his third year in the league after he missed his entire rookie campaign due to a foot injury.

Simmons was drafted first overall by Philadelphia in 2016 and has already become a star, despite the delayed start to his professional career. He won Rookie of the Year in 2017-18 and earned All-Star honours this past season.

He finished last year averaging 16.9 points and 7.9 assists per game and helped Philadelphia to the second round of the playoffs, where they were eliminated by the Toronto Raptors in seven games.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo said he is yet to reach his full potential, despite an NBA MVP-winning season.

Antetokounmpo capped off his sixth season in the league with MVP honours after edging James Harden and Paul George.

The 'Greek Freak' led the Bucks to the Eastern Conference Finals before Milwaukee fell to eventual champions the Toronto Raptors.

"There's a lot of things I can improve on," Antetokounmpo told ESPN. "First of all, [I have to] look at myself before I look at anybody else. Try to self-improve as much as possible. There are a lot of things that I got to work on in my game.

"A lot of people say, 'You are the MVP, you are one of the best players in the league, you are so dominant. But I think I can get better. I think I am at 60 percent of my potential, as good as I can be. I just want to be better. If I am in the same situation again [in the conference finals], react better, play the game better, play better, execute better."

Despite the disappointing playoff exit to the Raptors, Antetokounmpo made a strong case for himself when he helped Milwaukee to the NBA's best record at 60-22.

Antetokounmpo averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game.

He shot 57.8 per cent from the field but just 25.6 per cent from behind the arc in the regular season.

Antetokounmpo nearly bested his regular-season averages in the playoffs, recording 25.5 points and 12.3 rebounds throughout the postseason for the Bucks. But he struggled at times as Toronto zeroed in on him during the conference finals.

NBA veteran Dwight Howard would be open to playing for the Los Angeles Lakers or the Los Angeles Clippers.

Howard played just nine games for the Washington Wizards last season because of a back injury that required surgery before he was sent to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies are likely to waive Howard – an eight-time All-Star – if they cannot find a reasonable trade for the 33-year-old center.

If Howard becomes a free agent this offseason and gets to choose where he plays next, he would consider a return to Los Angeles, where he represented the Lakers in 2012-13.

"I don't know what's going to happen, but I do love L.A.," Howard told the Los Angeles Times. "Staples Center is going to be rocking this season. When I played there it was rocking every night.

"The atmosphere is crazy, not just for the Lakers but the Clippers too. I just think all the hard work they've put in is paying off now. They've always been viewed as the Lakers' little brother, but they decided to stand out and be different and you have to thank guys like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul for laying the foundation for this team, and then what Doc [Rivers] has done has been great. This is just all that hard work paying off."

Howard played for the Lakers for one season in 2012-13, hoping to form a super team with aging stars Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant. That roster was underwhelming, though, finishing seventh in the Western Conference. They were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs and Los Angeles have not made the postseason since.

After parting ways with the Lakers, Howard played for the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets and Wizards. And the league has changed a lot since he last lived in Los Angeles.

The Lakers signed LeBron James in free agency last offseason and pulled off a blockbuster deal to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans this month. They also brought in Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins and some highly-regarded role players.

Although the Lakers did not make the playoffs last season, their new personnel make them one of the favourites to win the championship in 2019-20.

Then there is the Clippers, who signed 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and managed to convince the Oklahoma City Thunder to trade Paul George – spring boarding them into the championship conversation.

Howard still thinks highly of the Lakers, despite his short stint with the team.

"It just wasn't the right fit for me at the time," Howard said of his first season in Los Angeles. "But the Lakers have been doing something right for a long time because they have the most fans in the world and the most championships over the past 40 years. You're not going to win a championship every year, but they're back and will compete for a championship next season."

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has called the roster changes around the NBA "insane" after a stunning series of trades and free agency signings.

Star names Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook and Paul George have been on the move in a sensational off-season.

"A lot of star players have a lot of power right now. This is the league we live in," Antetokounmpo told ESPN. "Like people ask for a trade and a trade happens. Players ask for a trade, 'I want to get traded there', and players go there. It's insane."

Leonard opted to join the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency, shaking up the Eastern Conference after he had led the Toronto Raptors to their first title in the franchise's history.

"For me personally, I would love for Kawhi to stay in the East and stay in Toronto because I would love to go through the series [with them] again," Antetokounmpo added.

"But unfortunately, this is the NBA we are talking about. Moves happen. People change teams. But we [have] got an opportunity right now. We [have] got to take advantage of it, and hopefully we can seize the opportunity and make big things happen.

"You can see a lot of stars all over the place. Clippers, Lakers, Brooklyn, Sixers, Boston ... it's good."

Despite the number of moves throughout the league, Antetokounmpo, entering his seventh season with Milwaukee, believes he can stay with the Bucks and win a championship.

"I want to be a part of a winning team," Antetokounmpo continued. "As long as we have the same mindset and same approach to the game, there's no reason for me to move and not be like Steph [Curry], not like be like Dirk [Nowitzki] or Kobe [Bryant] or Tim Duncan.

"I think it's good to control your own destiny and your own career."

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis did not publicly commit his long-term future to the NBA franchise after teaming up with LeBron James.

Davis swapped the New Orleans Pelicans for the Lakers via a trade earlier this month as he tries to lead Los Angeles to the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13.

The six-time All-Star is entering the final year of his contract and while he is tipped to re-sign with the Lakers, Davis gave nothing away during his introductory news conference.

"Honestly, I'm focused on this season," Davis told reporters in Los Angeles on Saturday.

"When I got traded here, my goal is to bring a championship here with the team that we have. And when that time comes around next year, then you can ask me that question and we'll revisit it.

"Right now, my focus is on this year, and trying to figure out how I can help this team, and help the organisation become a championship team."

The Lakers failed to acquire Davis from the Pelicans prior to last season's trade deadline but general manager Rob Pelinka eventually got his man in July.

Los Angeles traded away Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks for Davis, who was selected first by the Pelicans in 2012.

"Obviously it was tough for me to leave a city that I've been playing for for seven years, but I think it was best for me, and it was my time," the 26-year-old Davis said.

"But when I found out I was getting traded to the Lakers, I realised it was an unbelievable opportunity for me to be here with a wonderful organisation, and then to play alongside LeBron and obviously now the players that we have now ... to get the opportunity to do that and come here and play for an organisation that's all about winning - forget winning, winning championships, and that's the only goal - I think that was the biggest thing for me.

"Just the relief there, of not knowing the unknown anymore, and knowing where I was going to be next season."

Anthony Davis is thrilled at the prospect of linking up with "great leader" LeBron James at the Los Angeles Lakers.

The six-time All-Star was traded to LA by the New Orleans Pelicans earlier this month and will join three-time NBA champion James in attempting to return the Lakers to the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13.

James and Davis have previously teamed up at the 2012 Olympics, as well as at All-Star Games, but the latter is relishing the opportunity to work with his fellow superstar on a more regular basis.

"The things he does on the floor are pretty amazing," Davis told a news conference on Saturday.

"You see it on TV and when you're a fan you watch it a lot but I've never really had a chance to experience playing alongside him. The 2012 Olympics I didn't play much, I was the towel guy, and we had a bit of time during All-Star Games.

"To get a full season and see the things he's able to do – pass, shoot, he talks well defensively, he's a great leader, I'm excited to get a lot of that this season and go from there."

And Davis believes the Lakers, who finished 10th in the Western Conference last season with a 37-45 record, have put together a roster to challenge in 2019-20.

"It's gonna be fun for sure," he said. "I'm excited about it. The league has grown, it's better, all the players teaming up and spreading that talent throughout the league, it's gonna be a fun season.

"I like our roster, I like every player we have, I'm excited and I'll put our roster against anybody, it feels like in a seven-game series we'll come out victorious."

Davis also discussed waiving his $4million trade kicker, a decision he made in a bid to give his new franchise greater financial power to bring in more talent.

Kawhi Leonard, an NBA champion and Finals MVP with the Toronto Raptors last season, was a target for the Lakers before he completed a switch to city rivals the Clippers.

"Any time you can acquire a player like Kawhi, you have to do almost anything to get a guy like that," Davis said.

"It didn't work out for us but I still wanted to make sure I did whatever to help the team. That $4m was to add more money to a player's contract, or get another guy, then by all means I was gonna do that and we did a great job using that throughout the entire team."

After making drastic changes to the Los Angeles Lakers' roster this offseason, general manager Rob Pelinka stressed expectations will be high entering 2019-20.

The most notable change comes with the addition of Anthony Davis, who the Lakers acquired in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram.

When free agency started, the Lakers were in the running to land Kawhi Leonard. 

But when the NBA Finals MVP opted to sign with cross-town rivals the Clippers, the Lakers filled out their roster by adding DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green, Jared Dudley, Quinn Cook and Avery Bradley. They also re-signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and JaVale McGee.

With the upgraded roster, Pelinka said on Friday the Lakers need to win a 2020 NBA title in order to consider the season successful. 

"For us anything short of a championship is not success," he said on a conference call, via the Los Angeles Times.

Pelinka also revealed he relied on input from James and Davis to help make decisions on filling out the Lakers' roster.

"We view our relationships here with our star players as partnerships," Pelinka told reporters.

"I know both Anthony and LeBron are excited about the 14 guys and how we're going to come together. Both of their input has been incredibly valuable to me."

Pelinka's comments come just a couple months after the Lakers finished 10th in the Western Conference with a 37-45 record, missing the playoffs for the sixth season in a row.

Russell Westbrook paid tribute to the Oklahoma City Thunder after being traded to the Houston Rockets.

After being drafted as the fourth overall pick in 2008 by the then-Seattle SuperSonics, Westbrook spent his entire career in Oklahoma City after the team moved before his first official year.

Westbrook won the MVP in 2017, averaged a triple-double each of his past two seasons and made eight All-Star teams.

He was traded by the Thunder to the Rockets on Thursday in a package for Chris Paul.

But, Westbrook has good memories with the Thunder and he penned a heartfelt goodbye on Instagram on Friday.

"I can't even begin to put into words all of the emotions I have right now," he wrote.

"It's been one heck of a journey Oklahoma! When I came here, I was 18 years old, bright eyed, and completely unaware of all the amazing things that would soon take place.

"I grew up in Oklahoma with an amazing bunch of people. The people here are what makes this place so special. From the fans, my coaches, my team-mates, the entire Thunder organisation, Mr. Bennett, Sam Presti, my friends, and everyone in the entire community. You are all what makes Oklahoma such a beautiful place, and the reason I've loved playing here all of this time.

"You have supported me through all of the ups and the downs, and stood by me through the good times, and tough times. For that I am eternally grateful to you. I've met so many amazing people who have helped shape me into the man that I am today.

"I hope I have impacted the Oklahoma community as much as Oklahoma has made an impact on me and my family. I'm leaving Oklahoma with so many friends and so much gratitude. I could never thank you all enough for sticking with me. It's been a dream and a whirlwind. #WHYNOT."

Westbrook rejoins former team-mate James Harden in Houston after the two played the 2009 to 2012 seasons together in Oklahoma City.

Rockets star James Harden expects to have "a lot of fun" alongside Russell Westbrook in Houston.

The Rockets acquired the 2017 NBA MVP from the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday in exchange for Chris Paul, protected first-round draft picks in 2024 and 2026, and the rights to swap picks in two other drafts.

Harden, who played his first three NBA seasons in Oklahoma City with Westbrook, is pleased to be reunited with his old team-mate.

"When I left OKC I was sad," Harden said on Friday, via The Athletic.

"Then Houston made a home for me. Rockets is my home. And now an opportunity came available where Russ wasn't happy. Now we're back. It's going to be a lot of fun this year, I guarantee you that."

According to the Houston Chronicle, Harden and Westbrook "strongly favoured the move and a chance to play in a backcourt together".

Now, it is up to head coach Mike D'Antoni to build the offense around the two NBA MVPs, an award Harden won in 2018.

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