Dwight Howard has agreed to join the Philadelphia 76ers on a one-year deal after celebrating an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Howard's agent Charles Briscoe confirmed the free agency move to ESPN on Friday – the eight-time All-Star teaming up with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in Philadelphia.

Veteran center Howard was a free agent following the 2019-20 season, having signed a one-year contract in Los Angeles, where he helped the Lakers to their first title since 2010.

It appeared Howard was heading back to LeBron James' Lakers on Friday, when he tweeted – and later deleted – a Twitter post, which read: "I'm staying right where I belong. Laker nation I love y'all. Purple and gold never gets old."

Later, speculation of Howard's switch to the 76ers emerged – the 34-year-old's deal reportedly for the veterans minimum exception of $2.6million.

Howard will reunite with former general manager Daryl Morey in Philadelphia after the pair worked together at the Houston Rockets between 2013 and 2016.

Morey has made moves as president of basketball operations in Philadelphia, dealing Al Horford and draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for three-time champion and Howard's former Lakers team-mate Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson.

The 76ers – swept in the first round of last season's playoffs, prompting Doc Rivers' arrival – also acquired Seth Curry from the Dallas Mavericks for Josh Richardson and pick 36.

In his second stint with the Lakers, Howard averaged 7.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as the storied franchise ended their decade-long drought.

Howard made a significant contribution upon his return following his disappointing first spell in 2012-13 – he and JaVale McGee becoming the first pair of NBA team-mates to each have 75-plus blocks while shooting 60.0-plus per cent from the field in the same regular season since blocks became an official stat in 1973-74.

With Howard departing, the Lakers have turned to Los Angeles Clippers star and Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell.

Harrell's agent Rich Paul confirmed the two-year, $19million cross-town deal to ESPN.

The 26-year-old averaged 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game as the Clippers sensationally squandered a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Clippers team-mate Ivica Zubac (110) had the third-highest plus-minus in the postseason, behind Lakers pair Anthony Davis (131) and Green (118). Harrell was among the lowest with -68 – only Tim Hardaway Jr. (-82), Monte Morris (-82), Tyler Johnson (-73) and Maxi Kleber (-72) were worse.

Dwight Howard has agreed to join the Philadelphia 76ers on a one-year deal after celebrating an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Howard's agent Charles Briscoe confirmed the free agency move to ESPN on Friday – the eight-time All-Star teaming up with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in Philadelphia.

Veteran center Howard was a free agent following the 2019-20 season, having signed a one-year contract in Los Angeles, where he helped the Lakers to their first title since 2010.

It appeared Howard was heading back to LeBron James' Lakers on Friday, when he tweeted – and later deleted – a Twitter post, which read: "I'm staying right where I belong. Laker nation I love y'all. Purple and gold never gets old."

Later, speculation of Howard's switch to the 76ers emerged – the 34-year-old's deal reportedly for the veterans minimum exception of $2.6million.

Howard will reunite with former general manager Daryl Morey in Philadelphia after the pair worked together at the Houston Rockets between 2013 and 2016.

Morey has made moves as president of basketball operations in Philadelphia, dealing Al Horford and draft picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder for three-time champion and Howard's former Lakers team-mate Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson.

The 76ers – swept in the first round of last season's playoffs, prompting Doc Rivers' arrival – also acquired Seth Curry from the Dallas Mavericks for Josh Richardson and pick 36.

In his second stint with the Lakers, Howard averaged 7.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game as the storied franchise ended their decade-long drought.

Howard made a significant contribution upon his return following his disappointing first spell in 2012-13 – he and JaVale McGee becoming the first pair of NBA team-mates to each have 75-plus blocks while shooting 60.0-plus per cent from the field in the same regular season since blocks became an official stat in 1973-74.

With Howard departing, the Lakers have turned to Los Angeles Clippers star and Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell.

Harrell's agent Rich Paul confirmed the two-year, $19million cross-town deal to ESPN.

The 26-year-old averaged 18.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game as the Clippers sensationally squandered a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Clippers team-mate Ivica Zubac (110) had the third-highest plus-minus in the postseason, behind Lakers pair Anthony Davis (131) and Green (118). Harrell was among the lowest with -68 – only Tim Hardaway Jr. (-82), Monte Morris (-82), Tyler Johnson (-73) and Maxi Kleber (-72) were worse.

The Los Angeles Clippers have never been counted among the NBA’s elite franchises.  This season things were supposed to be different after the team landed bona fide superstar Kawhi Leonard.  In the end, they weren’t.  Many said he was the one to finally change things. He couldn’t.  

I can only imagine what it’s like to be a Clippers fan in a city that has a team like the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead of going to games to celebrate your team’s countless achievements, you merely go to watch as they stack up countless failures.

Cast in the role of a redeemer for the Clippers this season, Kawhi has received major backlash from some fans who hoped he would save the franchise from another subpar season.  But, he isn’t to blame.  The team’s elimination from the playoffs after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets can’t be placed on just his shoulders alone.

Kawhi needed a Pippen to his Jordan, an Anthony Davis to his LeBron, a Dory to his Marlin.  He needed a sidekick, a reliable partner. Paul George wasn’t that.  In fact, many considered the Clippers to be the deepest team in the NBA, but no one really showed up.  Not even the typically reliable 6th men Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams who have been solid fallbacks for the team for many seasons now.

You don’t need a crystal ball to see that if Kawhi doesn’t get the backing he needs, and deserves, then the Clippers’ chances of winning a championship next year and their hopes of escaping this continuous cycle of mediocrity are dim.

Looking at the bigger picture, the Lakers are still going to be contenders, the Golden State Warriors led by Clay Thompson and Steph Curry are expected to be back in contention and young talented teams like the Nuggets will return with plenty more experience and a drive like never before.  And, that is just the Western Conference.

Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I saying this is the end for the Los Angeles Clippers, they could come out of this disappointment a stronger team and even go on to be champions, but they need to find a way to at least live up to their name.

Unlike the famous speedy ships that once passed through San Diego Bay, their performances have been slow and plodding.

In fact, they came into the NBA bubble performing more like the old, dull scissors being used by many at home in the pandemic.  You know, the ones you have laying around the house somewhere that you would never cut your hair with because you would rather look scruffy than use scissors you don’t have faith in.  The ones you could give your children to use for craft projects to keep them busy in between homeschooling sessions.

It would be great to see the other LA franchise really sharpen up.  Be the clippers our trusty barbers use. The ones known for their precision. The ones that have a razor edge and are cut-throat sharp.

 

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

 

 

 

When billionaire owner Steve Ballmer opened his cheque book to sign Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Los Angeles Clippers were immediately elevated into the championship picture.

Leonard was fresh off guiding the Toronto Raptors to a first NBA title, while six-time All-Star George finally landed in a big city after starring in Indiana and Oklahoma City.

The Clippers went all-in to build a super team to outshine LeBron James and iconic neighbours the Los Angeles Lakers, but time is already running out to win championships after sensationally capitulating against the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals at Walt Disney World Resort.

As head coach Doc Rivers and the Clippers try to pinpoint what went wrong for the second seeds, we review the team's 2019-20 season using STATS data.

Postseason hurdle too great

The star-studded Clippers cannot translate their regular-season form to playoff success, having finished behind only the Lakers in the west.

This campaign was the ninth consecutive season they finished with a winning record (49-23) but failed to reach the Conference finals – the longest streak of its kind in NBA history.

The Clippers' postseason woes were compounded by a horrific series loss to the Nuggets, having led 3-1 and stood on the cusp of an all-Los Angeles Western Conference final.

One of three franchises that joined the NBA as an expansion team in the 1970-71 season, the Clippers – formerly known as the Buffalo Braves – have never won a championship or conference title.

 

George and Kawhi incompatible?

The Clippers gave up a lot to pair George with Leonard.

Los Angeles sent five first-round draft picks, plus Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, to the Thunder in exchange for 2018-19 MVP finalist George.

But George – who averaged 21.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists in the regular season – struggled to produce when it mattered most and shot the ball much worse this season when he shared the court with two-time champion Leonard. The difference was even greater during the playoffs.

With Leonard on the court in the regular season, George's field-goal percentage was 41.1 compared to 48.2 without him. During the playoffs, George boasted a 53.8 shooting percentage while Leonard was sidelined, a significant improvement on the 36.8 per cent he managed together with the former Raptors superstar. 

Combined, George has a 48.8 percentage while Leonard is off the court, compared to 39.9 during the duo's time together.

Zubac over Harrell

The Clippers could well build their team around Ivica Zubac and not 2020 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell.

In the playoffs this season, the Clippers were great with Zubac on the court but not so good with fellow center Harrell, who is set to become a free agent.

Zubac (110) had the third-highest plus-minus in the postseason, behind Lakers pair Anthony Davis (131) and Danny Green (118). Harrell was among the lowest with -68 – only Tim Hardaway Jr. (-82), Monte Morris (-82), Tyler Johnson (-73) and Maxi Kleber (-72) were worse.

 

Ageing Clippers over-reliant on starters

One of the Clippers' biggest strengths is their bench, averaging over 50 points per game in each of the past two seasons – the only times any team have done that in the past 35 years.

But in the playoffs this season, the Clippers relied much more heavily on their starters as their bench averaged only 36.5 points per game in the postseason.

With the Clippers built to win now, their ageing roster also presents a problem. They are one of the oldest teams in the league, fourth and only behind the Houston Rockets (30 years, 179 days), Milwaukee Bucks (29 years, 321 days) and Lakers (29 years, 201 days) with an average of 28 years and 153 days.

Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker and the Cleveland Cavaliers' Andrew Drummond reached the quarter-finals of the NBA 2K20 charity tournament on Sunday.

With the NBA postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic, a charity tournament has been put together to raise money in support of COVID-19 relief efforts.

Winner of the single-elimination Xbox One tournament will receive $100,000 to give to charity, and Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant – the top seed – was a high-profile casualty on Friday.

Fifth seed Booker defeated Michael Porter Jr. of the Denver Nuggets 85-75 in the opening round, while sixth seed Drummond crushed former Golden State Warriors center DaMarcus Cousins 101-49.

Rui Hachimura of the Washington Wizards topped Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell 74-71 and Los Angeles Clippers center Montrezl Harrell eased past Indiana Pacers star Domantas Sabonis 73-51.

The quarters are now set, with Harrell to meet Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr., who stunned Durant on Friday.

Booker will play Hachimura, Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young takes on Suns center Deandre Ayton and Drummond goes head-to-head against Clippers guard Patrick Beverley.

The tournament – being aired on ESPN – will continue on Tuesday and conclude on Saturday.

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant will lead a field of 16 in an NBA 2K20 charity tournament to raise money amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With the NBA postponed due to COVID-19, players have time on their hands, so a select group will go head-to-head in the virtual world, starting Friday on ESPN.

The winner of the single-elimination Xbox One tournament, which runs through to April 11, will receive $100,000 to give to a charity in support of the coronavirus relief efforts.

Durant is the top seed, ahead of Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks), Hassan Whiteside (Portland Trail Blazers), Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Andre Drummond (Cleveland Cavaliers), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers), Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers), Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns), DeMarcus Cousins, Michael Porter Jr. (Denver Nuggets), Rui Hachimura (Washington Wizards), Patrick Beverley (Los Angeles Clippers), Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings) and Derrick Jones Jr. (Miami Heat).

"We're thrilled to partner with the NBA and NBPA to bring basketball back to fans throughout the world and to help those in need during these uncertain times," said Jason Argent, 2K senior vice-president, sports strategy and licensing.

"Entertainment, especially sports, has the ability to bring communities together – including athletes, fans and families – and we hope that everyone will enjoy the tournament."

"We are excited to tip off the first 'NBA 2K Players Tournament' in partnership with the NBPA and 2K, continuing an ongoing effort to stay connected with NBA fans around the world, while also giving back in this time of need," said Matt Holt, NBA SVP of global partnerships.

Players' seeding is based on their NBA 2K rating, with two-time champion Durant 96 overall in the video game.

Durant, who contracted COVID-19 and has been recovering from an Achilles injury, will open the tournament against Jones on Friday.

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