The NBA fined Patrick Beverley $25,000 for tossing the ball into the crowd after the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers.

Beverley and the Clippers celebrated their season-opening 112-102 victory over city rivals the Lakers at Staples Center on Tuesday.

Following the buzzer, Beverley threw the ball underhand into the crowd, leading to a fine from the NBA on Wednesday.

While it is clear the 31-year-old was not attempting to harm anyone in the crowd, the league still found the action egregious enough to fine him.

Beverley is known around the league as a hard-nosed, in-your-face defender, but does not have a significant history when it comes to fines or suspensions.

In the win against LeBron James and the Lakers, Beverley had two points, 10 rebounds and six assists on one-of-seven shooting.

The Arkansas product re-signed with the Clippers in the offseason on a three-year deal for just under $40million.

Miami Heat recruit Jimmy Butler will miss the team's NBA season opener against the Memphis Grizzlies due to personal reasons.

The Heat made the announcement prior to Wednesday's visit of the Grizzlies at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra said "everything is fine" regarding Butler's situation and that "it's all good."

Butler – a four-time All-Star – signed a four-year, $140million deal with the Heat after moving to Miami in a sign-and-trade from the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason.

Last season, Butler was traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Sixers just 10 games into the season after he voiced his displeasure with the Minnesota front office.

In 65 games with Minnesota and Philadelphia, the 30-year-old averaged 18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

Digicel and the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today (Wednesday, October 23) that the top 14 boys and girls from the Digicel NBA Jumpstart Elite Camp, held in Trinidad and Tobago from July 20-21, will participate in the Digicel NBA Jumpstart’s NBA Experience in New York from October 30 – November 4.

Anthony Davis says he and LeBron James are "trying to figure it out" as he outlined areas for improvement after the Lakers lost to Los Angeles rivals the Clippers in his debut for the team.

Kawhi Leonard was filled with emotion as he described an "amazing" return to Los Angeles after leading the Clippers to victory over the Lakers on the NBA's opening night.

Without Paul George, the Clippers won 112-102 against a Lakers team containing LeBron James and Anthony Davis at Staples Center.

Leonard produced an influential performance, as a game-high 30 points came with six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.

He was heavily booed by Lakers fans after turning down the chance to join the team in favour of joining their city rivals.

But Leonard, who won the NBA title with the Toronto Raptors last year, provided the perfect answer, hitting seven straight shots at one stage as the Clippers scored 40 points in the second quarter.

"All those emotions went through me again," Leonard said of his Clippers debut back in his hometown.

"Once I'm playing the game, I'm locked in. But before the game last night there were a lot of emotions, knowing my family was going to be here and that I'm going to be playing here at Staples, my hometown – it's just amazing.

"It was great, a lot of emotions, game one. I'm just happy we came out and got a victory. We played a great practice the last week, everyone competing and pushing everybody's limits and we had some carry over.

"I just made shots pretty much. I felt like I got to my spots early, missed some little chippies but started making shots. That's what happens."

Lakers fans targeted Leonard with boos when the lineups were announced and again as he attempted to address the Clippers' fans before the game.

"I just heard a loud noise," he said. "I was just trying to be as loud as I can. I wasn't sure if the Clipper fans were being loud or if it was the Laker fans.

"I didn't pay attention to it too much. I was just trying to let the fans know the appreciation we have for them for coming out."

Clippers coach Doc Rivers was impressed by Leonard's first outing, while also recognising the importance of the bench, who outscored the Lakers' second unit 60-19.

"He talks with his game," Rivers said of Leonard. "I think that's the way it should be. It's a great sign of leadership.

"He was intense. You could feel the intensity, there's no doubt about that. And this bench is going to be better this year than even last year."

Leonard, who was 10-of-19 shooting in 32 minutes, added: "These guys were a playoff team last year, they fight hard every single night. We are not going to stop just because I'm here or Paul's here.

"We're missing a couple more pieces still, with Paul and a great defender Rodney [McGruder] too."

The Clippers have another high-profile game up next, on the road against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

LeBron James was "ecstatic" to be back in action at the start of the new NBA season, even though he was unable to help the Los Angeles Lakers to victory on opening night.

Kahwi Leonard led the Los Angeles Clippers past LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers on the NBA's opening night.

New Orleans Pelicans general manager David Griffin described speculation about rookie Zion Williamson's knee injury as "just asinine".

Williamson missed the Pelicans' season-opening 130-122 overtime loss to reigning champions the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday as the number one NBA draft pick recovers from injury.

The 19-year-old sensation – the most heralded rookie since LeBron James – will miss the first six to eight weeks of the season after undergoing meniscus surgery on his right knee.

And Griffin is not about to listen to the speculation that Williamson's injury is the result of poor conditioning or the size he carries.

"The notion that this happened because Zion is in poor condition is just asinine," Griffin told reporters. "He wasn't in poor condition when he went 12 of 13 last week against Utah.

"That's not what it is. He's just a very unique body type and certainly from a physics perspective.”

Griffin added: "I've seen the narrative out there about him [that] this happened because he's not in shape and he's too big.

"That dude is a freak of nature. When he went through his physical, he ran on the treadmill longer than the cardio-stress test people have ever needed to put anybody through a test to get his heart rate up.

"That happened because he's touched by the hand of God to do this. He's in elite condition. He stays in elite condition."

Kyrie Irving is expected to be the Brooklyn Nets' key player this season but the All-Star insisted a group effort will determine the direction of the team.

Irving swapped the Boston Celtics for the Nets to team up with Kevin Durant amid much hype and fanfare in the offseason.

Irving is set to be the alpha dog in 2019-20 as former Golden State Warriors superstar Durant recovers from an Achilles injury.

However, Irving told reporters on Tuesday: "I think that we all share a certain responsibility in the leadership here.

"I think that some of my past experiences, there could be a sense of alienation when you think about someone naming you as just the leader of the team and falling all in your court.

"I want to share those responsibilities with those guys — obviously we have different roles, that every single night there's a consistency that you have to live up to, and your game. But overall, there shouldn't be a different communication that I have with [Dzanan] Musa or Caris [LeVert] just because I am a nine-year vet, or anything like that."

Irving's leadership style was questioned when he clashed with some of his team-mates at the Celtics last season and Boston failed to live up to lofty championship expectations.

But now the star point guard is in a completely different situation as he attempts to put a Brooklyn team that have never won an NBA title on the map.

"This is just one accord, one team, one common voice," Irving said. "We all share our own experiences and we want to use that to become better as a team. So yeah, individually we have our own leadership, but as a group, we all share that responsibility."

Irving – a six-time All-Star – is entering his ninth NBA season and averaged 23.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game last year.

He will make his Nets debut as Brooklyn host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

 

Michael Jordan does not yet believe Stephen Curry has had the career to be considered a Hall of Fame player.

Several years ago Jordan said he would pick Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon and James Worthy to play alongside him as an unbeatable team in any pickup game.

He was asked if he would stick with that selection in a wide-ranging interview with Craig Melvin on "Today". Jordan insisted he would not change those picks — not even for Curry.  

"I'm going in the trenches. I played against and with all these guys," Jordan said. "I'm going with who I know. Every single night, their responsibility to go out there and represent greatness, every single night." 

Melvin asked: "So Steph Curry shouldn't be offended when he watches this?"

"I hope not. He's still a great player. Not a Hall of Famer yet, though," Jordan said with a smile. "He's not."

Golden State Warriors superstar Curry, 31, is a two-time MVP and a three-time NBA champion.

He has averaged 23.5 points, 6.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game in his 10-year career.

Jordan, now 56, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 after he earned six championships, six NBA Finals MVPs and five league MVPs.

He also made 14 All-Star appearances in his 15-year career. The Chicago Bulls took Jordan with the third overall pick in 1984, and he went on to play 13 seasons over two stints before spending two years with the Washington Wizards. 

The offseason has been all about the major moves.

Kawhi Leonard left the Raptors after delivering an NBA title to Toronto, Anthony Davis linked up with Lakers star LeBron James in Los Angeles, while Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both wound up at the Brooklyn Nets.

However, we take a look at some of the under-the-radar aspects of the 2019-20 season - from rotations you might not think about to potential Sixth Man of the Year contenders.

TEAMS

Utah Jazz - The Jazz have been to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons after finishing fifth in the stacked Western Conference on each occasion.

But there may not have been a move that went more unnoticed than Bojan Bogdanovic signing in Utah, and there may be no move that will quietly have a big impact than Mike Conley arriving in a trade.

Conley allows Donovan Mitchell to play off the ball, which makes him better, and Bogdanovic adds another layer of scoring to a team that really struggled to put the ball in the basket when Mitchell was off his shooting game last season. This team has a real chance to win the West and still no one is paying much attention.

Miami Heat - Any team that adds Jimmy Butler instantly becomes competitive. The Heat needed to start anew after the first and second eras of Dwyane Wade, and Butler could be just the guy to do that.

Add Tyler Herro to the mix to give Miami some much-needed shooting and a bigger role for Bam Adebayo in the middle after the departure of Hassan Whiteside and this team is at the least interesting, at the most a contender for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference.

PLAYERS

Bogdan Bogdanovic - Bogdanovic often gets lost in the shuffle on a team with good, young talent, but he is the sparkplug that makes the Kings' second unit go.

He might not average 25 points a game, but he is more than capable of putting up a 25-point performance off the bench on a regular basis, and that probably is why the Kings are reportedly offering him a max contract extension as he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Jrue Holiday - It's hard to be under the radar if you're an All-Star and a two-time NBA All-Defensive member, but everyone seems to forget about Holiday.

He is now the alpha dog on a New Orleans Pelicans team that lost Davis, and he is coming off a career year. 

Holiday could easily one-up himself this season and maybe even get the Pelicans fighting for a playoff spot with a good young core of Zion Williamson and Lonzo Ball now in the fold.

ROTATIONS

Oklahoma City Thunder - The Thunder have been understandably written off after trading Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets and Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, but this team could actually be pretty exciting this year.

In acquiring Chris Paul, the Thunder have an All-Star point guard who can get the ball to Steven Adams for some easy dunks in the pick-and-roll.

Then adding guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is a very exciting young player, and Danilo Gallinari, who has always been entertaining, gives the Thunder a very interesting starting rotation. Then add guys off the bench like Dennis Schroder and Hamidou Diallo and Oklahoma City fans certainly will have something to cheer for this season.

It should be noted though that is all on paper as the Thunder may try to move Adams and Paul as they try to rebuild, but for now the team should be fun to watch early in the season. We'll see if that translates into wins though.

Atlanta Hawks - No one will pay attention to the Hawks until they get a few more years into this rebuild, but like the Thunder, Atlanta has some fun pieces to watch and build around.

Trae Young very well could have won Rookie of the Year last season, John Collins had an argument to be an All-Star and Kevin Huerter became a good rotation player by the end of the season. Add rookies De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish into the fold along with veteran Evan Turner and this team looks like it will be more competitive this season. We'll see how the depth does in the long run though.

Steve Kerr is preparing to spend a full season without Klay Thompson after saying it is "unlikely" the shooting guard will be fit enough to play any part.

The Golden State Warriors star tore his ACL during Game 6 of the NBA Finals in June, so it was expected that he would miss a significant amount of time.

Some reports had surfaced suggesting Thompson could be back after the All-Star Break in 2020, but Kerr is taking a more pragmatic approach to his recovery.

"It's unlikely that he's going to play this year, so we have to understand that," the Warriors coach said on NBC Sports Bay Area. 

"You have to look at it realistically. I had an ACL [tear] in college, and I missed a whole season. Generally, an ACL for a basketball player is a full year recovery, and if it's a full year for Klay, that puts him out for the season.

"We've kind of left the door open in case the rehab goes perfectly and the doctors say he can go. But the reality is, on April 1, that's the nine-month mark. April versus nine months post-op for an ACL."

It is rare that a player is able to return in nine months from a torn ACL. Derrick Rose, Jabari Parker and Zach LaVine all missed closer to a year with similar injuries.

Keeping Thompson out for the year likely will be better in the long run, since his possible return at the end of the season would likely see him weaker and rusty due to the recovery process.

The Warriors will open their season on Thursday at home against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Zion Williamson may be set to miss the first two months of his maiden NBA season, but the New Orleans Pelicans rookie looks destined to be a hit.

There was no doubt that Zion would be taken with the first overall pick in the 2019 draft and the Pelicans were fortunate enough to get that selection in the lottery despite only having a six per cent chance.

New Orleans will have to navigate the start of their new, post-Anthony Davis era without the Duke product, who underwent surgery on a knee injury sustained during preseason.

Zion will surely remain a potentially world-beating talent upon his return, but how have the other No.1 picks from this decade fared in the league?

 

2010: John Wall (Washington Wizards) - Miss

Wall is undoubtedly a hugely talented point guard but he has struggled with injuries and played just 73 regular season games in the past two years. The Wizards have only made the playoffs four times since selecting him and have not gone beyond the second round. He may not return from a torn Achilles until 2021 either.

2011: Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers) - Hit

After being named Rookie of the Year in 2012, Irving went from strength to strength and claimed a championship alongside LeBron James four years later. However, he was unsuccessful in a leading role with the Boston Celtics and will hope to put problems with his knee behind him and gain another ring with Kevin Durant at the Brooklyn Nets.

2012: Anthony Davis (New Orleans Hornets) - Hit

Davis was unquestionably the right pick and he led New Orleans back to the playoffs after a three-year absence in 2015, though they fell in the first round to eventual champions the Golden State Warriors. He only managed to guide them into the postseason once more, as part of a formidable front court with DeMarcus Cousins in 2017-18, but links to the Los Angeles Lakers disrupted his final campaign with the Pelicans.

2013: Anthony Bennett (Cleveland Cavaliers) - Miss

The first Canadian to go first overall in the NBA Draft did not have the career that was projected. He averaged just 4.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 12.8 minutes in his debut campaign and was quickly moved on by the Cavs. After stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors and Nets he dropped out of the league, with the highlight of his career being a EuroLeague title at Fenerbahce in 2017.

2014: Andrew Wiggins (Cleveland Cavaliers) - Miss

The Cavs sacrificed Wiggins and Bennett in order to get Kevin Love from the Timberwolves, who formed part of their championship-winning 'big three' alongside James and Irving. The Canadian signed a mammoth five-year contract worth almost $150million after averaging 23.6 points in the 2016-17 season, but he has failed to repeat those scoring exploits and looks destined not to live up to expectations.

2015: Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves) - Hit

Towns won Rookie of the Year in 2016 and has proved a much more useful piece for Minnesota, who are in possession of one of the NBA's so-called 'unicorns'. Big things are expected of the 23-year-old center this season after the two-time All-Star expressed excitement at being able to "use all my talent" under new head coach Ryan Saunders.

2016: Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers) - Hit

Having missed the 2016-17 season through injury, Simmons was the runaway Rookie of the Year in the following campaign after leading the Sixers to a 52-30 season and the Eastern Conference semifinals - ending the barren years in which Philadelphia's mantra was 'Trust the Process'. He showed a lack of progression in his second year and needs to add a decent jump shot to his game, but were the towering guard to become available there would be plenty of interest.

2017: Markelle Fultz (Philadelphia 76ers) - Miss

Fultz was selected by Philadelphia because of the threat he offered on the perimeter, but in one of the most bizarre stories in recent NBA history he appeared to completely forget how to shoot. He played just 33 games across two seasons before being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, and the Sixers cut their losses and dealt him to the Orlando Magic in February.

2018: DeAndre Ayton (Phoenix Suns) - TBC

The Suns appear to have secured a hit with their maiden first overall pick in Ayton, the center having become just the third rookie this decade to average a double-double. He managed to impress on a 19-win team but needs more time before his worth can be properly judged.

Russell Westbrook and James Harden will be team-mates once again in this NBA season, and the Houston Rockets pair have certainly evolved since their days together at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

It has been seven years since Westbrook and Harden wore the same NBA uniform, a series-deciding Game 5 loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals when the duo each scored 19 points.

Harden's contribution came from the bench - as it often did that season - and he soon moved to Houston to become the main man, a distinction he will be expected to keep despite Westbrook's arrival this offseason.

Here, using Stats Perform data, we look at how productive Westbrook and Harden were together in OKC, and how their roles have changed since.

 

A PRODUCTIVE PARTNERSHIP

In their final year together with the Thunder in 2011-12, Westbrook had the best season of his career in terms of field goal percentage (45.7 per cent), while Harden had what remains his best campaign in terms of both field goal percentage (49.1 per cent) and three-pointers made (39 per cent).

Ten-time All-Star Kevin Durant was on the roster then too, of course, but a deeper dive into the numbers shows just how much better offensively the Thunder were in that campaign when Westbrook and Harden shared the floor.

Per 100 possessions, they averaged more points (113.8 to 102.8), more offensive rebounds (13.2 to 10.2), more assists (19.4 to 19.2) and scored more points off fast breaks (17.7 to 16.0).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was a drop-off defensively when Westbrook and Harden were on court together, as OKC conceded more points on average per 100 possessions (103.4 to 97.8).

HARDEN: FROM SIXTH MAN TO MAIN MAN

In the 2011-12 season, Harden's last with the Thunder, 'The Beard' was voted the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year for his performances off the bench, when he averaged 16.8 points per game.

That first year in Houston, Harden averaged a whopping 25.9 points per game – the increase of 9.1 representing the fourth-largest jump of all time among players who switched teams after averaging at least 15 points per game in the previous season.

Moreover, among all Sixth Man of the Year winners, Harden has the five highest scoring seasons of all time - including last term, when he poured in 2,818 points in 78 games at a staggering average of 36.1.

ALL-ROUND RUSS

It was after Durant's departure for the Golden State Warriors in 2016 when Westbrook ascended from second fiddle to superstar.

Westbrook's numbers greatly improved in his first year without Harden and Durant. He averaged 31.6 points per game (up from 23.5 in the previous season), 10.7 rebounds per game (up from 7.8 in the previous season) and 10.4 assists per game (the same as the previous season).

That season - when Westbrook was named the league's MVP - he averaged a triple-double, a feat he also achieved in the following two campaigns, despite Paul George's presence on the Thunder's roster between 2017 and 2019.

Last season, Westbrook only tried 28.7 shots per 100 possessions when George was out, down from 35 attempts in 2017-18.

For the first time in six seasons, there may be a new winner of the Western Conference.

The Golden State Warriors, winners of the conference in each of the previous five campaigns, have lost Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets and Klay Thompson to injury.

The Los Angeles Lakers added Anthony Davis but didn't improve nearly as much as the Los Angeles Clippers, a team that was better than them last season and have since added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

All we can do is guess who will win the conference this season and it could easily be an under-the-radar team like the Utah Jazz, who added Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic.

Here's what we think you can expect this season.

Team on the rise: Dallas Mavericks

Dallas improved a lot last year with Luka Doncic coming into the fold and now they will have a healthy Kristaps Porzingis. We'll have to see how it works in the long run, but this team appears to clearly be trending upward.

Team on the slide: Oklahoma City Thunder

This is obvious. Oklahoma City lost Russell Westbrook and George. A step back is inevitable. But this team has talent with Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, Dennis Schroder and Hamidou Diallo. We'll see how it works out and if the Thunder trade any of those guys to hasten their rebuild.

MVP: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

No Durant and no Thompson. That means a lot more shots for Stephen Curry. The big question is how he will fit with D'Angelo Russell, who is a lot more ball-dominant than Thompson. But if they can work well together, we could see the two-time MVP-level production from Curry again. 

Rookie of the Year: Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

An obvious candidate. Williamson has already won the Rookie of the Year Award if he can get through the season healthy - and there are doubts about that given he will miss the start of the season due to knee surgery. Williamson will be on a team without a ton of talent and on highlights every single night. That's a great recipe to win Rookie of the Year.

Stat shot: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Jokic has averaged 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists each of the last two years. Only Westbrook and Oscar Robertson have done that over a three-year span.

The Nuggets might not have added as much as some of the other teams in the West (see the Houston Rockets, Clippers, Lakers), but one more year of development of Jokic and Jamal Murray, plus a healthy Michael Porter Jr, should keep this team in contention for a playoff spot.

Three storylines

1. The Rockets duo: Will Westbrook and James Harden be able to mesh together in an offense? And how will Westbrook's shooting struggles fit with Mike D'Antoni?

2. Clutch performers: Will Davis and LeBron James dominate the league like we think they can or will the duo once again struggle to stay healthy?

3. A pair reigns supreme: Is it Harden and Westbrook? James and Davis? Leonard and George? Donovan Mitchell and Conley? Doncic and Porzingis?

Predicted order of finish

1. Clippers*
2. Lakers
3. Jazz
4. Rockets
5. Nuggets
6. Warriors
7. Trail Blazers
8. Spurs
9. Mavericks
10. Kings
11. Pelicans
12. Timberwolves
13. Thunder
14. Grizzlies
15. Suns

*NBA Finals representative

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