Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti said Russell Westbrook is the "most important player" in the NBA team's history following his trade to the Houston Rockets.

On Tuesday, the Thunder announced they had finalised the trade that sent Westbrook to Houston in exchange for two future first-round selections, two pick swaps and Chris Paul.

Westbrook, who spent his first 11 seasons with the franchise, will "always remain part of the Thunder family", Presti said.

"Russell Westbrook is the most important player in the brief history of the Oklahoma City Thunder," Presti said in a statement.

"He has left an indelible mark on this team, city and state. None of us could have anticipated the player he has become, and we are all deeply proud of what he has contributed to the success of the franchise and to our community."

Westbrook was the second top-level player the Thunder sent away this offseason. They moved Paul George — who finished third in the MVP voting in 2018-19 — to the Los Angeles Clippers and received five first-round selections, two pick swaps, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari in return.

The Thunder then dealt forward Jerami Grant to the Denver Nuggets for another first-round pick.

"We recently had conversations with Russell about the team, his career, and how he sees the future," Presti said. "Through those conversations we came to the understanding that looking at some alternative situations would be something that made sense for him. As a result, and due to his history with the Thunder, we worked together to accommodate this.

"Our ability to have these types of conversations and work so closely with Russell and his agent Thad Foucher is only possible because of the depth of the relationship that has been built over the last 11 years."

The deal reunites Westbrook with James Harden in Houston. The pair played together with the Thunder from 2009-12.

The Thunder could look to trade veteran guard Paul again before the start of 2019-20.

James Harden and Russell Westbrook will "make it work" at the Houston Rockets, insisted head coach Mike D'Antoni.

The Rockets acquired Westbrook in a blockbuster trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder, reuniting the 2017 NBA MVP with Harden.

Harden and Westbrook like to control the ball but D'Antoni is confident the latter will fit into Houston's line-up without any drastic changes to accommodate the All-Stars.

"We're not changing much," D'Antoni said on the The Woj Pod while discussing the addition of Westbrook. "We'll tweak it, but to say you've gotta change and you can't win that way, that's B.S."

Some critics believe the Rockets do not spread the ball around enough and play too much isolation.

Now, some are questioning whether it will be even more challenging to play that type of offense with both Harden and Westbrook, who are two ball-dominant players, on the court.

D'Antoni, however, does not think it will be a problem because the two want to play together, and they previously teamed up in Oklahoma City.

"They’ll make it work," D'Antoni said. "Do we sometimes go too much one-on-one? Yeah. Do we sometimes iso or not move enough? Yeah, we do sometimes. But I can also make the argument that sometimes teams over-pass. You try to find the balance of what is best for your players."

D'Antoni explained the Rockets will find what works best for both players to maximise their talents.

"I will start looking now at tape and trying to figure out the dynamics between the two and how they played in Oklahoma City and how it's changed since then, in the Olympics," D'Antoni said.

"But it's exciting. Whenever you have great talent, it's exciting because it gives you a chance to win, and that's what we all want to do. But it'll be my job to maximise their talents and what they do best, and it should be really good.

"I saw it in USA Basketball. You put [the stars] all together and they want to make it work, it doesn't matter. The more talent you have, the better it is. And I think right now with this duo and other people, it'll work. Now, to what degree, we'll see."

Kevin Durant swapped the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets because he loves the "system", according to general manager Sean Marks.

Durant joined the Nets via free agency after winning two championships and two NBA Finals MVPS with the Warriors.

Recovering from an Achilles injury sustained in the Finals defeat to the Toronto Raptors, Durant thought highly of Brooklyn and their style of play, which is one of the reasons he chose the Nets over other suitors in free agency.

Marks told WFAN on Tuesday that in his first conversation with Durant after the announcement, the star said: "I love the system. I love how you guys play. I see how hard you guys play ... you were never out of games. We could never take you guys lightly."

Marks stood by the fact he did not know Durant's choice to join the Nets until he announced it on Instagram just a few minutes after free agency began on June 30. 

"What we knew was we were either getting a teleconference call with Kevin that night or we were going to potentially get a meeting," Marks said.

"We'd seen some media reports earlier in the day that Kevin had crossed several teams off his list and we were still one of them [being considered]. And those reports were there for everybody to read. And when Kevin posted it on The Boardroom Instagram site, that was news to all of us in the office."

Marks remains excited about the addition of Durant, despite him recovering from an injury that will likely have him sidelined for the upcoming season. Brooklyn also signed Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan.

Irving joined Durant after he opted out of his deal with the Boston Celtics following a number of reports surfaced about the turmoil he faced at TD Garden.

"I'm not going to lie, there's been a couple of times I'm definitely excited about — Kevin for sure, the whole group and really the challenge of getting all these guys together on the same page and watching how it unfolds," Marks said.

"I think that's the magic and that's the real special piece where you see elite talent ... want to play together and see who's going to sacrifice what and who's going to bring what to the table and just see how they all mesh."

David Griffin saw the future of the New Orleans Pelicans in a brief moment during NBA Summer League practice, and the executive vice president of basketball operations said things look "crazy" good.

Griffin introduced recruits Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart after a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers centred on Anthony Davis, and Derrick Favors – acquired from the Utah Jazz.

Coupled with first pick Zion Williamson and eighth selection Jaxson Hayes, along with returning guard Jrue Holiday, and the Pelicans are expected to be one of the most-improved teams in the NBA in 2019-20.

Griffin is thrilled with what he has seen so far, like that special moment in a recent Summer League practice.

"There was a moment where Jaxson Hayes was out running the floor in a practice with Zion on the other side, and they were sort of just messing around … and the speed those guys have just at a trot is mind-numbing," Griffin told reporters on Tuesday. "Alvin and I looked at it and we thought, 'Man with those guys on the wing, and with Lonzo at the point, what we'll be able to do speed-wise is crazy'."

That is crazy in a good way for the Pelicans, unlike last season's 33-49 craziness, lowlighted by the persistent trade rumours surrounding Davis.

Griffin said he is excited all the acquisitions come from winning backgrounds, adding: "We want to surround ourselves with people that have won championships on any level, because it's a frequency you learn to tune to. We're deep with selfless winners."

Former Lakers guard Ball welcomes the move to New Orleans, saying: "It's a fresh start. It's a restart. … I know the media is not like it was in LA, but I know the fans are great and come out and support [us]."

Ball added: "I'm getting back to playing the style I've been playing my whole life, I'm very comfortable in a high uptempo offense like coach Gentry has."

The Pelicans will enter this season with high expectations and playing under a microscope with Williamson on display. But Griffin wants the players to believe anything is possible.

"Look at what the NBA has become, and the way teams are built," Griffin said. "You can't dream big enough in this league. I think I want everyone's approach to this to be, 'Why not us?'"

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."

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