LeBron James acknowledged "everything went wrong" for the Los Angeles Lakers after their last-gasp 116-115 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

Andrew Nembhard hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer at the Crypto.com Arena to help his side secure victory after fighting back from a 17-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Defeat marks a second in four matches for the Lakers, who bounced back from their loss to the Phoenix Suns last week with back-to-back wins over the San Antonio Spurs.

James, who posted 21 points in a tough outing, says he and his team-mates ultimately failed to shut the match down and ensure a hungry Pacers side could have no way back.

"[You have] just got to finish the game," he stated. "Everything has to go wrong in order for you to lose a game like that.

"Everything went wrong today. You tip your hat off to Indiana, they kept fighting, they kept pushing."

Coach Darvin Ham took full responsibility for his side's late collapse and questioned how he can fix his team's inability to chase offensive action over the closing stages.

"You get a lead like that and the free-throw line allows you to maintain your lead," he added. "I wish we'd been a lot more aggressive, [and] continued playing with pace.

"That falls on me. I take responsibility for that. Late in the game, [we were] just giving up offensive rebounds. That's been something that has plagued us the last couple of games."

The Lakers next welcome the Portland Trail Blazers on November 30, with the team mired in 13th place in the Western Conference.

Ivica Zubac was a man possessed in the Los Angeles Clippers' 114-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, recording a stat-line only ever emulated by the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

With star Clippers duo Kawhi Leonard (ankle) and Paul George (hamstring) both absent, Zubac carried his team on both ends, scoring a season-high 31 points on 14-of-17 shooting, while grabbing a career-high 29 rebounds and blocking three shots.

Abdul-Jabbar is the only other player to offically tally those numbers, although it is widely believed both Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain should also be on that list, having played before the NBA began recording blocks and steals in the 1973-74 season.

Zubac became the first Clipper ever with 25 points and 25 rebounds, and since the 1983-84 season, there have only been 24 instances of a player grabbing at least 29 rebounds in a game, joining Andre Drummond, Nikola Vucevic and Kevin Love as the only active players to accomplish the feat.

He grabbed 12 offensive rebounds with his 17 defensive rebounds, raising his average to 10.8 for the season – the ninth-best figure in the league. He is also top-10 in blocked shots, averaging a career-high 1.8 per game.

For the Pacers, Tyrese Haliburton had 19 points and 11 assists to continue maintaining his career-high and league-leading average of 11.1 assists. He is two assists per game clear of second-placed Trae Young (9.1).

The win improves the Clippers' record to 12-9, leaving them fifth in the Western Conference standings.

Nets machine begins to click into gear

The Brooklyn Nets showed the signs of a potential contender as they pulled away in the fourth quarter to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers 111-97.

With offensive focal points Kevin Durant (31 points) and Kyrie Irving (22 points) combining to shoot 20-of-37 from the field (54 per cent), their perimeter-oriented style was thriving. 

Ben Simmons only attempted three shots and finished with two points, but he played exactly the role envisioned for him, posting team-highs in rebounds (12), assists (eight) and steals (three) to keep the ball moving and the offense functioning.

Seth Curry was spectacular off the bench, hitting 11-of-15 shots for a season-high 27 points, showing off his supreme chemistry with former Philadelphia 76ers teammate Simmons.

Golden State's big-three deliver

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green turned back the clock as they had full control over the Golden State Warriors' 137-114 road win against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Curry continued his MVP-calibre season with 25 points (seven-of-17 shooting), 11 rebounds and eight assists, while his Splash Brother Klay Thompson contributed an efficient 21 points on eight-of-13 shooting, hitting five-of-eight from deep.

They were both set up by Green, who hit six of his seven shots for 19 points, while leading the game with 11 assists and two blocks.

The Warriors have now won five of their past six games to claw above .500 at 11-10.

Two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was once again the best player on the floor to lead his Milwaukee Bucks to a 117-102 victory against the breakout Cleveland Cavaliers.

Both teams entered the contest as a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference, and despite a 29-point effort from offseason trade acquisition Donovan Mitchell, the Cavs had no answer for the Bucks' future Hall-of-Famer.

Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting, hitting 10 of his 14 free throws while adding nine rebounds, six assists and two blocks. 

While usual running-mate Jrue Holiday was not at his sharpest, shooting four-of-13 for his nine points, it was veteran center Brook Lopez who turned out to be the Bucks' second star.

Lopez scored eight points without missing a field goal, hitting both of his three-point attempts, and he was a force defensively, blocking six shots for the second time this season, and it was the fifth time from his 17 games that he has blocked at least five shots.

His 2.6 blocks per game is a new career-high in his 15th season, and the second-best figure in the league, trailing only Myles Turner (2.8) of the Indiana Pacers. 

Along with Antetokounmpo, the pair are anchoring the best defense in the league, conceding 105.9 points per 100 possessions – almost two points per 100 possessions better than any other team.

With the win, the Bucks are now 13-5 and 10-2 at home, while the Cavaliers fall to 12-7, and remain the third seed.

Lakers make it four wins from five

The return of LeBron James has helped the Los Angeles Lakers win their fourth game from their past five outings, defeating the San Antonio Spurs 105-94.

After missing five games with an adductor injury, James was more than a little rusty as he committed nine turnovers for only the ninth time in his 1377-game career. However, he still chipped in 21 points on eight-of-17 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists.

Enjoying his best statistical start to a season since arriving with the Lakers, Anthony Davis scored a game-high 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting, grabbing 15 rebounds to increase his career-high average to 12.6, and he blocked three shots.

Pacers keep on winning

The Indiana Pacers are meant to be in a rebuilding year, but after their 128-117 win against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday they now own the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Myles Turner continued his career-best season with an efficient 23 points on nine-of-11 shooting, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking two shots, while pick-and-pop partner Tyrese Haliburton had 15 assists and four steals to go with his 21 points. Haliburton leads the league in assists at 10.9 per game, and is the only player averaging over 9.4.

Kevin Durant was not to blame for the Nets' loss, scoring a game-high 38 points (15-of-31) with eight rebounds and eight assists, while Ben Simmons scored 20 points on perfect eight-for-eight shooting.

Indiana Pacers big-man Myles Turner enjoyed one of the best games of his career in his side's 129-122 victory against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday.

Turner, who has led the NBA in blocked shots per game on three occasions (2018-19, 2020-21 and 2021-22), also reached a significant milestone as he tallied three blocks to become the second-quickest Pacers player to reach 1000.

While he dominated the defensive end of the court, he also excelled as an offensive threat, scoring a game-high 37 points on 11-of-18 shooting (four-of-seven from long range, 11-of-11 free throws) with 12 rebounds.

All five Pacers starters scored at least 15 points, but Tyrese Haliburton was Turner's partner in the win, scoring an efficient 20 points (seven-of-14 shooting, six-of-10 from three) while dishing 13 assists.

Speaking to the media after the win, Turner indicated he is much happier in his role under coach Rick Carlisle, turning more into a big who can shoot as opposed to just being a big shooter.

"My teammates look for me, and being at the five I have a lot more advantages down low now, especially against teams who are switching more," he said.

When asked about his 1000th blocked shot – which came on a dunk attempt from Zion Williamson – he made it clear where he feels he stands among the game's best rim-protectors.

"It's special man, this is what I do," he said. "I think I'm the best shot-blocker in the world, and I'm going to stay with that confidence.

"It's special that I can do this here at home – regardless of the noise, my heart is in Indy, I think my fans here know that."

His last comment was in reference to consistent chatter linking him with a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers – chatter he contributed to with his appearance on Adrian Wojnarowski's 'Woj Pod' where he laid out why he would be a good fit with LeBron James.

This performance will undoubtedly get the attention of the Lakers, but for now he remains in Indiana, where head coach Carlisle believes he is becoming the player he wants to be.

"[Turner] did damage around the basket at both ends," he said. "It was one of his most impactful games that I've seen since I've been here.

"He just played the game, played a simple game. When they switched on him, he positioned himself to catch the ball and punish them inside. 

"There was nothing he did that was out of character, or that was something he was not capable of doing. That's one of the beautiful things about this game, is when you play within yourself and do things to your strengths, you can be extremely confident, extremely cocky and extremely successful."

Indiana Pacers guard Chris Duarte will likely miss four-to-six weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 ankle sprain in Friday's 101-99 victory over the Miami Heat.

Duarte was coming off a career-high, 30-point performance in Monday's 116-109 road loss to the Brooklyn Nets before stepping on the foot of Heat guard Kyle Lowry in the first quarter on Friday.

Duarte was a second-team All-Rookie selection last season after the 13th overall pick in 2021 averaged 13.1 points per game, sixth-most among all first-year players in the NBA.

He has averaged 8.9 points in nine games, including five starts, this season for an Indiana team that has won three of four following a 1-4 start.

Jayson Tatum's 36 points ended up being just enough for the Boston Celtics to overcome the Chicago Bulls 123-119 on Friday.

In front of Boston's home fans, the Celtics used a 37-26 second quarter to fight back from a sluggish start and take a 63-57 lead into the halftime break.

Chicago's DeMar DeRozan would try to will his side back into the contest in the third period, putting up 16 points in the quarter to trim the lead to 88-85 and set up a thrilling final term.

DeRozan added another 11 points in the fourth, going on to finish with a game-high 46 as he lived at the free throw line. He hit 13 of his 23 field goal attempts, and added another 20 points from his 22 free throw attempts.

Tatum put together his big game in a similar fashion, although he was less efficient from the field. He finished eight-of-23, but hit 17-of-20 from the free throw line, and had 11 points of his own in the final quarter to repel the Bulls' late charge.

Tatum's running-mate Jaylen Brown had a quieter game, scoring 16 points on six-of-14 shooting, but Malcolm Brogdon rose to the occasion off the Celtics' bench. 

Brogdon was clearly Boston's second-best player, shooting a hyper-efficient nine-of-10 from the field to put up 25 points and four assists in 29 minutes.

Luka magic leads to eighth straight 30-point performance

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks is now one of two players to ever score at least 30 points in the first eight games of an NBA season, putting up 35 in a 111-110 win against the Toronto Raptors.

Doncic joins the great Wilt Chamberlain in that honour, with the 'Big Dipper' accomplishing it on two occasions. Chamberlain started the 1959-60 season with eight consecutive 30-point games, before hitting that benchmark in the first 23 games of the 1962-63 season for a record that will likely never be broken.

The 23-year-old Slovenian was 10-of-15 from the field for his 35 points, and he added eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block.

O.G. Anunoby was the shining light for the Raptors, putting up 27 points (11-of-21 shooting) with seven rebounds and five steals.

Mathurin shows star potential for the Pacers

Indiana Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin flashed some intriguing upside as he scored 23 points off the bench in a 101-99 upset win against the Miami Heat.

Mathurin, the sixth overall pick from this year's NBA Draft, has now scored at least 23 points in four of his nine NBA games, and has only scored fewer than 15 points on one occasion.

The six-foot-six scoring wing was five-of-11 from the field, three-for-seven from long range and 10-of-12 from the free throw line in a well-rounded performance, finishing with a plus/minus of plus four in his 37 minutes.

Bucks win again, remain undefeated

The Milwaukee Bucks, who are still missing All-Star Khris Middleton, continue to look like the best team in the league after moving to 8-0 with a convincing 115-102 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In a game where two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was not scoring the ball efficiently, finishing with 26 points on seven-of-17 shooting and a poor 10-of-20 from the free throw line, Jrue Holiday picked up the slack.

To Antetokounmpo's credit, he also added 13 rebounds and 11 assists for a strong triple-double, but Holiday was the star of the show, shooting 50 per cent from the field (12-of-24) for his 29 points, while grabbing eight rebounds, dishing six assists and snatching two steals to round out a terrific performance.

It is the first time in the Bucks' franchise history they have started a season 8-0.

Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner took his opportunity on the podcast of ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski to lay out the case for why the Los Angeles Lakers should trade for him.

Turner, 26, led the NBA in blocked shots per game in the 2018-19, 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons. His career average of 2.29 blocks per game is second among all active players, trailing only Lakers star Anthony Davis (2.34).

Of all the players to average at least two blocks per game across the past two seasons, only Memphis Grizzlies big-man Jaren Jackson Jr has also averaged at least one made three-pointer per game.

His unique combination of shot blocking and shooting at a relatively young age has made him an intriguing trade chip for the Pacers, who are well-and-truly in the middle of a total rebuild, led by young point guard Tyrese Haliburton.

There were reports in the offseason about a potential trade between the Lakers and Pacers that would have seen Russell Westbrook and the Lakers' first round draft picks in 2027 and 2029 sent to the Pacers for Turner and shooter Buddy Hield.

Speaking on the Woj Pod, Turner, who is in the last year of his contract, said he believes it is a deal the Pacers should revisit.

"Coming into a contract year as well, you can’t lose me for [nothing]," he said. 

"[The Pacers] can’t have the notion of me playing out this year, they don’t trade me, and it’s like 'okay, say free agency comes around and I don’t re-sign here'. Let’s just be real – that’s just bad on the organisation.

"If they do trade me, and they do get assets for me coming along, they’re doing what’s best for them and doing what they’re paid to do. There’s no hard feelings with that."

He then laid out his case for why he believes he would be a strong fit, and be more appreciated with the Lakers.

"I know what I can provide for a team," he said. "My leadership, my shot-blocking, my three-point ability and just my ability to make plays out there on the floor.

"If I'm the Lakers, I take a very hard look at this with the position that you're in… but as far as pulling the trigger, I get paid to shoot. I'm not paid to make these calls, so I couldn't answer that.

"I just feel like here in the Midwest we don't get the love that I think we deserve... it doesn't get taken in on the national level.

"You are under the microscope out there in the West. When you are doing bad, you're going to hear about it. When you are doing great, you are going to get a lot of love, especially with the love that the Lakers get.

"I think that another aspect that is [appealing is] playing with greatness and playing under LeBron. I feel like he demands a certain level of excellency, especially at this point of his career. It's just one of those things; when you are out there, you got to perform.

"People are going to expect you to go out there and hold on to that legacy that the Lakers have built over the years."

The NBA trade deadline is not until February 9, but with the Lakers starting their season 1-5, they may act with urgency to turn things around.

Big performances from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez carried the Milwaukee Bucks to a 110-108 victory against the Detroit Pistons on Monday.

With their win, the Bucks are now 6-0, and the NBA's last remaining unbeaten team.

Two-time MVP Antetokounmpo led the way with a game-high 31 points on 12-of-23 shooting, and he delivered in an important stretch of the game.

After the Bucks came out of halftime with a 60-52 lead, the Pistons got on a quick run, cutting the margin to one at 62-61, before Antetokounmpo scored his team's first 10 points of the third quarter to steady the ship.

He was supported well by Holiday, who scored 25 points with an efficient long-range shooting performance, finishing seven-of-15 from the field while hitting five of his 11 three-point attempts. He also added 10 assists and seven rebounds

Meanwhile, Lopez was a force in the middle of the paint, scoring 26 points (10-of-16) with nine rebounds and two blocks.

For the Pistons, Cade Cunningham was excellent with 27 points (11-of-23), seven assists and six rebounds, while the fifth overall pick from this year's NBA Draft, Jaden Ivey, had seven of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to make it a game down the stretch.

Harden narrowly misses career-high 

James Harden was one assist shy of his career-high as he dished out 17 in the Philadelphia 76ers' 118-111 win over the Washington Wizards.

His 17 assists matched his regular-season high, becoming the 10th time he has reached that figure, while he had 18 assists in a playoff game for the Brooklyn Nets against the Boston Celtics in the first round of 2021.

Against the Wizards, Harden also added 23 points (eight-of-17 shooting) and seven rebounds, with Tyrese Maxey finishing as their top-scorer with 28 on 12-of-22 shooting.

Washington's Kristaps Porzingis was the game's highest scorer with 32 points (10-of-17), nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Durant and the Nets get back in the win column

The Brooklyn Nets snapped a four-game losing streak when they defeated the Indiana Pacers 116-109.

Superstar duo Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving led the way as Ben Simmons missed the game with swelling in his knee.

Durant finished with a game-high 36 points on 13-of-22 shooting, while adding nine rebounds and seven assists. Irving was not far behind, posting 28 points (nine-of-19) with six rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Second-year wing Chris Duarte was impressive for the Pacers, scoring 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting, hitting five-of-10 from long range.

Steve Nash implored the Brooklyn Nets to "care more" after falling to their fourth straight loss, with Ben Simmons revealing the side met for a players-only meeting to discuss problems.

Indiana Pacers recorded a 125-116 victory on Saturday, the fourth time in six games the Nets have conceded 125 points or more, as Nash's side dropped to 1-5 this season.

Brooklyn host the Pacers again on Monday and Nash outlined his frustrations with the Nets as he urged his team to show more commitment.

"It was a disaster," coach Nash said. "How else do you say it? I didn't see the will, didn't see the desire, or the connectivity necessary to get stops and get rebounds.

"We just got to make a bigger commitment and it's got to mean more and we got to care more.

"We have to look deep inside ourselves and what we want to do. What do we want to accomplish? Do we want to give up on this because it's been difficult early or do we want to stay the course and start to build something?

"We've had a lot of really good days here early in the season and we've lost a couple of games; it shakes our mentality, it has shaken our mentality hard.

"And we're not seeing the same competitive spirit, same purpose, and if we don't clean that up it's not going to get better. It's the only way to get out of difficult positions is to have character and competitive spirit."

The Nets have been largely reliant on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving thus far, the pair scoring 61 points at Barclays Center, and the former acknowledged Brooklyn must improve soon.

"It was a s***ty night," Durant said. "Excuse my language, it was a bad night. We're p***ed. We enjoy basketball.

"We like to win, though, so of course when we lose the games it's going to be a sombre mood in the locker room. But it will change once we start playing some good basketball.

"We got a lot of basketball to be played ahead of us."

While Nash urged his team to up their effort levels, Simmons suggested the Nets are confronting their problems after a meeting between the players following the defeat.

"It was honest," Simmons said of the meeting. "We had a conversation. Obviously, I'm not going to talk about it, but it was honest.

"That's what winning teams do. Hold each other accountable, be able to be open and talk to your team-mates, and respect that and be men."

Stephen Curry scored 31 points with 11 rebounds in his annual homecoming that ended in an overtime defeat for the Golden State Warriors, losing 120-113 to the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.

Golden State had led by four points in the final minute of regulation, before P.J. Washington hit a jumper, followed by a Dennis Smith Jr layup to tie the game.

Curry missed a tough three-point attempt to win the game at the end of regulation time, and airballed another shot in overtime. The Warriors point guard finished with three-of-13 from beyond the arc, making 10-of-22 from the field.

The Hornets, who were without LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, were rampant in overtime, with Washington finishing the game with 31 points and Jalen McDaniels draining a crucial triple. Gordon Hayward made a strong contribution with 23 points and four assists.

Golden State shot at 29.5 per cent from three-point range, with Klay Thompson battling on one-of-seven shooting from beyond the arc in his 11 points.

Jordan Poole made four-of-11 attempts in his 24 points off the bench for the Warriors, who are 0-2 on the road this season and 3-3 overall.

Clutch Embiid lifts 76ers to back-to-back wins

Joel Embiid scored 25 points but none were better than his tiebreaking three-point shot as the Philadelphia 76ers made it back-to-back wins with a 114-109 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Embiid drained his wide-open three-point shot to put the 76ers up 112-109 with 18.1 seconds remaining in the game as Philadelphia improved to 3-4 after their 1-4 start to the season.

The 76ers center had seven rebounds and four assists, while James Harden contributed 15 points on two-of-13 field shooting with 11 assists, while Tyrese Maxey scored 14 points after posting a career-high 44 on Friday.

Nets woes worsen with Pacers shock

The Brooklyn Nets' defensive woes continued as they fell to a fourth straight loss, going down 125-116 to the Indiana Pacers for whom rookie Bennedict Mathurin scored a career-high 32 points.

The Nets conceded another big score, averaging 124.5 points against during their four-game losing skid, with Kevin Durant contributing 26 points with five rebounds and four blocks.

Kyrie Irving, who has come under fire for appearing to show support to an antisemitic film this week, responded on the court with 35 points including five triples with six assists.

Philadelphia 76ers star James Harden said it is a weight off everyone's shoulders to finally get their first win of the season on the board with a 120-106 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.

After an 0-3 start following losses to the Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks and the San Antonio Spurs, the 76ers began to right the ship with an explosive first half.

Led by former MVP Harden with 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in the first two quarters, the 76ers ran out to a 64-46 halftime lead.

Back-to-back MVP runner-up Joel Embiid worked his way to the free throw line in the second half, hitting all nine of his attempts to finish with 26 points (eight-of-13 shooting), five rebounds and three blocks, while Harden posted 29 points (10-of-18 shooting) with nine rebounds and 11 assists.

Speaking to the media after the game, Harden said it's a good start, but there is still plenty of work to do if they want to be real contenders this season.

"That felt good, man," he said. "It felt like we were 0-82. It felt good, but it's a work in progress.

"As much as we want things to happen overnight, and for us to be 4-0, we're 1-3. We just have to continue to work, continue to build really good habits, and live with the results. 

"We have to hang our hats on the defensive end, and I think we had some really good spurts, and then some where we let them back in the game. We have to continue to build and continue to hang our hats on the defensive end."

Meanwhile, head coach Doc Rivers praised Embiid for his patience and playing within the structure of the offense.

"I liked his patience," he said. "This was one of those game where you haven't won a game, and they're trapping him every time – literally every time he touched it early – and he just kept moving it.

"He was in no rush, and eventually it opened up because they were tired of us making threes, so then they left Joel one-on-one – which is not going to work either.

"I just liked how he approached the game – he had great patience, he let the game come to him."

Rivers added that if the 76ers want to play faster – which they do – the Pacers are a great team to do it against.

"They play really fast – because they have to," he said. "They're very similar to San Antonio, and I've coached teams like this. When you don't have the one guy you can just give it to, you better run, if you have any chance.

"We really focused on [our pace] this morning – our goal was to get the ball across halfcourt by 20 [on the shot clock]. I don't think we accomplished that goal a lot, but we did get it up there a lot earlier.

"That allows us – especially against trapping teams, because they were switching and trapping Joel [Embiid] – having those four or five extra seconds to make the extra pass, guys get rhythm shots."

Harden also touched on that point, shouldering the blame for some of their lack of pace in the opening games as they entered this contest with the fewest possessions-per-game at 98.3, whereas the league-leading Golden State Warriors are averaging 113.4 possessions.

"It gives us more time to create a better shot," he said. "When you're walking the ball up, you're limited, so we want our pace to pick up a little more.

"The first couple games I put that on myself – just because I've played against some really good individual defensive players – but even me, when they're on me, I've got to push the ball up and push the tempo.

"That's just going to give us more opportunities on the back-end when the shot clock is winding down. Tonight was a good start, and we just need to keep improving."

The Phoenix Suns have immediately matched the four-year, $133million offer sheet that the Indiana Pacers presented center Deandre Ayton in restricted free agency.

With Ayton being a restricted free agent, it meant the Suns would reserve the right to match any offer Ayton agreed to with another team, and it appears it was their plan all along to test if the market would actually view the former number one draft pick as a max contract player.

Ayton's representatives believed all along that they would be able to get a max offer sheet in restricted free agency, and they were proven right as the Suns tried to call their bluff. The Pacers' offer was the largest in the history of restricted free agency negotiations, trumping Otto Porter Jr's four-year, $107m deal in 2017.

It is unknown if the Suns could have signed him for a cheaper price, as ESPN's report claims the franchise made no offer to Ayton in the interim, likely in the hope that the limited amount of teams with cap space would mean they could match a more palatable offer sheet.

The Suns center is one of just nine players to average at least 15 points and 10 rebounds since he entered the league four seasons ago, while shooting just a hair under 60 per cent from the field for his career.

He will make $30m in the upcoming season, slightly escalating each year to eventually reach $35m in 2025-26.

Since the Suns opted to play out the process through restricted free agency, it now means Ayton will have significantly more control of any potential trades he could be involved in for the next year.

He is unable to be traded before January 15, and even after that he will have veto powers until the end of the season. Due to the Pacers presenting an offer sheet, they will be unable to trade for Ayton for at least one year.

Restricted free agent (RFA) center Deandre Ayton has agreed to a maximum four-year, $133million offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday.

Ayton’s current team, the Phoenix Suns, will have 48 hours to decide whether to match the offer – the largest RFA offer in league history – or allow him to leave without compensation.

The top overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, Ayton has developed into a core player on a Suns team that reached the 2021 NBA Finals and led the league with 64 wins this past season. The soon-to-be 24-year-old is one of nine players to average 15 points and 10 rebounds per game over the last four seasons (minimum 200 games played over that span).

Ayton’s future in Phoenix had come into question, however, after he was benched for much of the second half of the Suns’ Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals. Reports also surfaced that the Suns were reluctant to offer the Arizona product a maximum extension after just giving All-Star Devin Booker a four-year, $224 million supermax deal.

By agreeing to the offer sheet, Ayton has greatly restricted the possible avenues in which he could have left the Suns. He is now unable to be included in sign-and-trade deals this off-season, and if Phoenix decide to match – which they are expected to do – they will not be able to trade Ayton until January 15.

The Suns would also not be allowed to trade Ayton to the Pacers for at least a year, and Ayton would have the ability to veto any trade in the first year of the contract.

The previous largest offer sheet in NBA history was a four-year, $107m deal offered to former Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. by the Brooklyn Nets in 2017. The Wizards ultimately matched the offer.

In 236 career regular-season games, Ayton has averaged 16.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks while shooting 59.9 percent from the field. 

For comparison, the Dallas Mavericks selected Luka Doncic two picks after the Suns selected Ayton in the 2018 draft, and have since rewarded him with a five-year, $215m max extension.

The Indiana Pacers have agreed to trade point guard Malcolm Brogdon to the Boston Celtics, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday, bolstering the backcourt of the reigning Eastern Conference champions. 

Indiana are getting a 2023 first-round draft pick from the Celtics, along with Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts and Juwan Morgan. 

The Celtics set out to find a traditional point guard this offseason after last season's NBA Finals run came up short largely due to a high turnover rate.  Boston committed 353 turnovers during their 24-game playoff run, the most since the 2003 San Antonio Spurs (365). 

Jayson Tatum was responsible for 100 of those turnovers, the most by a player in a single postseason since the league started tracking turnovers in 1977-78.

Brogdon averaged 19.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists last season for Indiana but was limited to just 36 games by a lingering injury to his right Achilles tendon. 

A second round pick out of Virginia, Brogdon spent his first three seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks and won Rookie of the Year in 2016-17. He has spent the past three seasons with the Pacers. 

Even after acquiring Brogdon, Boston top executive Brad Stevens may not be done adding to the Celtics' roster.

ESPN reported earlier on Friday that veteran forward Danilo Gallinari – who was traded to the Spurs and was then to be waived – has identified Boston as his preferred landing spot. 

With the top three picks of the NBA Draft appearing to be Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero – likely in that order – the real fun begins with the Sacramento Kings at pick four.

The heavy favourite to be selected fourth overall is Purdue's Jaden Ivey, who projects as the top guard prospect in this year's class.

At 6ft 4in with tremendous athleticism, Ivey is a point guard that plays in a similar fashion to John Wall, although he is not the natural facilitator Wall is, leaning on his scoring and driving ability for his primary value.

Ivey was considered part of the top tier through early portions of the college basketball season until the three bigs elevated themselves further into their own conversation, but Ivey has been gaining so much steam throughout the pre-draft process that teams including the New York Knicks have reportedly been enquiring about trading up to the Kings' pick to select him.

 

Keegan Murray

After Ivey, the draft really opens up, although Iowa wing Keegan Murray will likely not fall outside of the top seven.

Murray is a 6ft 8in, highly skilled scorer who will be able to fill both forward spots in the NBA, and figures to be a player who will be able to create his own baskets in isolation situations.

He averaged 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game during his sophomore season, and shot a terrific 55 per cent from the field and 39.8 per cent from three-point range on 4.7 attempts per game.

Defense is the question with Murray, but he has the size and athleticism to contribute on that end, while the team that drafts him will hope he can fill a similar role to Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton as a low-maintenance scorer who does not need to be the centrepiece of every play to stack up points, but can also take over if needed.

 

Shaedon Sharpe

The mystery man of this year's class is 6ft 5in wing Shaedon Sharpe, who did not play a single game this past season at the college level.

Sharpe was viewed as a potential top-five pick in next year's draft, but opted to expedite his process to turn professional as soon as possible, and he will be rewarded with a top-10 pick barring any unforeseen red flags.

Strongly built, athletic, long-armed wings with the ability to aggressively hit pull-up three-pointers and defend multiple positions are probably the most valuable archetype in the game right now, and Sharpe fits the billing.

With a game that resembles Paul George, Sharpe arguably has a ceiling as high as anybody in the class, but a lot of future NBA wings look like Paul George when their only footage is against high school kids.

 

Bennedict Mathurin

Arizona wing Bennedict Mathurin also appears to be a lock for the top 10 after a dominant March Madness run that included a 30-point outburst in an overtime win in the Sweet 16, profiling as a high-level traditional shooting guard.

Clearly a score-first player, Mathurin – 6ft 6in with a 6ft 9in wingspan – will be able to defend opposing ones, twos and threes while his well-rounded offensive game should comfortably translate to an off-ball role at the next level.

Through his two seasons at Arizona, Mathurin shot 38 per cent from three on five attempts per game, including difficult, contested looks, while he also showed he can score at all three levels, and even dished seven assists with his 27 points in a key tournament win.

Maybe the safest pick outside of the top three, Mathurin will comfortably score in the teens as a rookie if he lands in a situation with minutes available. Think of him as a more athletic C.J. McCollum.

Dyson Daniels

Arguably the most unique guard in the class is Australian Dyson Daniels, who played with the G-League Ignite, and he also seems unlikely to fall out of the top 10.

Daniels was viewed as a decent prospect as a 6ft 5in combo guard who specialised in defense and lacked a jump shot – then he grew another three inches, cleaned up his jump shot and began assuming point guard responsibilities.

At 6ft 8in now with guard skills and elite defensive upside, Daniels is perhaps the hardest player in the class to find an NBA comparison for. He is so unselfish and pass-first that his play style resembles pure point guards like Tyus Jones or Monte Morris, but he is at least six inches taller and can realistically guard four positions.

Unlikely to ever become a true first option, Daniels is best served playing next to a primary scorer, making him an ideal fit with Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers if they decide to use pick seven instead of trade it.

 

Ousmane Dieng

Speaking of late risers in the draft process, teams seem to be deciding that someone with the tools of France's Ousmane Dieng may have no business falling outside of the top 10.

Dieng, a massive wing measuring at 6ft 10in, showed some extremely interesting flashes of skill this past season as an 18-year-old playing with the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL.

Playing for a professional team, he was not given nearly the kind of leash as college prospects to show what they can do, averaging 15 minutes and three points through his first nine games.

But once he found his footing, it was clear he was a serious prospect, showing off sharp ball-handling and the ability to attack off the bounce in an 11-game stretch where he averaged 24 minutes and 14 points per game, scoring at least 17 points in five contests and shooting 20-of-56 from long range (35 per cent).

A.J. Griffin

The son of former NBA player and current Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin, the only thing that can force A.J. Griffin to slide down draft boards is his injury history.

With essentially the perfect body for an NBA wing at 6ft 6in and 220 pounds with a seven-foot wingspan, Griffin is yet to turn 19 years old, and shot a blistering 44 per cent from long range on 4.4 attempts per game in his sole collegiate season.

If he can stay healthy, Griffin will be a solid starting wing at the bare minimum, with similar offensive upside to Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby and the defensive tools to guard at least three positions.

Teams will take a look at his medicals and decide if he is worth the risk, with multiple serious injuries during his high school career and more injury concerns during his one year at Duke.

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