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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is never a dull day in the NBA, but this past weekend may have been the craziest moment in league history.

We will get to that in a second, but we will also touch on the Home Run Derby and the Houston Texans who are looking like a train wreck once again.

All that and more on this week in US Sports.

 

1. Clippers eclipse Lakers

This was as crazy of an NBA offseason as there has ever been. An MVP candidate (Anthony Davis) was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, two stars signed with the Brooklyn Nets (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving), the Boston Celtics reloaded with an All-NBA guard (Kemba Walker) and the New York Knicks are the Knicks.

But all of that news paled in comparison to what happened in the wee hours of Saturday morning when news broke the Los Angeles Clippers were going to get both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. While the Leonard news broke first, what we came to find out was Leonard had convinced George to accept a trade to Los Angeles from the Oklahoma City Thunder. So, while he signed seemingly on his own with the Clippers, what actually went down was the George trade was agreed to which sealed Leonard's move to Los Angeles.

Now the Clippers and Lakers have even odds to win the NBA Finals next year, but the Clippers have much of the momentum and possibly the best defensive tandem in the NBA in George, Leonard and Patrick Beverley. The Western Conference is going to be fun next year.

 

2. Home Run Derby for the ages

For years the Home Run Derby has been stale. A few years ago, the MLB was forced to change the format from 10 outs to a timed round in which players could hit as many pitches as they want rather than being selective and taking pitch after pitch. Some rounds would seem to creep into the 30-minute range and fans were losing interest.

Absolutely no interest was lost on Monday though in a Home Run Derby for the ages. This derby featured a man (Joc Pederson) who hit 39 home runs in a round and lost (Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit 40) and an event where a rookie bashed 91 balls over the fence and did not win (Guerrero).

There were 321 total homers in the event and the final between two rookies (Guerrero and Alonso) took three overtimes to decide. The Home Run Derby was not boring this year, it was what a Derby was always supposed to be.

 

3. Drama in Houston

The Houston Texans have been one of the better organisations in the NFL over the last several years as they have made the playoffs three of the last four seasons while winning their division five times since 2011. But all that success seems to be in spite of themselves and this offseason is a perfect example as to why.

Houston selected Jadeveon Clowney with the first pick in 2014. He has 29 sacks and 67 quarterback hits in his career and has been named to three Pro Bowls while missing a total of six games over the last four years. And yet, the Texans do not want to sign him to a long-term deal. In fact, they likely will not be signing him to a long-term deal at all this offseason, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle.

Even more damning may be the team's ineptitude in the front office. General manager Rick Smith left last year to take care of his sick wife, but it was reported he did so because of a rift with Bill O'Brien. Then the man hired to replace Smith was fired after one year with the team, but after the Draft. Finally, the team decided on Thursday they were not going to hire a replacement GM and will run the team as a committee next season. The Texans are lucky to be in one of the worst divisions in the NFL, otherwise they may be getting more flak for their actions.

 

4. Chad Mendes retires

A former WEC title contender has retired. Chad Mendes, who accumulated an 18-5 record and had Conor McGregor beaten and bloodied on short notice, has decided to end his long and illustrious career in the WEC and UFC.

"I just want to say THANK YOU to all my fans and everyone that tuned in to watch me battle!" Mendes wrote on Instagram. "With 29 years of competing and 11 year in the Mma game, I feel it's time for the next chapter in my life! It's been an incredible journey with so many life lesson along the way. I feel extremely blessed to be living this life I live and can't wait to see what the next chapter has in store for me!"

 

5. Astros' Marisnick suspended two games

Houston Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick has been suspended for two games after running over Los Angeles Angels catcher Jonathan Lucroy in a game on Sunday, MLB announced on Thursday.

Lucroy sustained a concussion and broken nose on the play and manager Brad Ausmus called for Marisnick's suspension after the game as did St Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.

Kawhi Leonard has officially joined the Los Angeles Clippers, but has reportedly made a surprising decision regarding his contract.

The three-time All-Star is rumoured to have signed a three-year, $103million deal with a player option in 2021-22, rather than the four-year, $141m contract he initially was expected to sign.

Such an agreement would allow Leonard to become an unrestricted free agent alongside his co-star Paul George – whose arrival from the Oklahoma City Thunder was also ratified on Wednesday – in two seasons, which puts pressure on the Clippers to be successful.

Leonard, the 2019 NBA Finals MVP, declined his player option with the Toronto Raptors after their championship run and elected to return to his home state of California. 

The ruptured Achilles Kevin Durant suffered in Game 5 of this year's title series made Leonard the most sought-after free agent on the market. He made things interesting by orchestrating a blockbuster deal.

The Clippers, at Leonard's request, sent Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and a staggering five future first-round picks to the Thunder for George, making them the favourites to win the championship in 2020.

They went from an eighth seed in the Western Conference to a powerhouse with two All-NBA talents and a strong supporting cast featuring Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell.

The Clippers have come back stronger than ever after a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, but their window to win it all could be smaller than what many thought it would be.

Paul George farewelled the Oklahoma City Thunder after moving to the Los Angeles Clippers to team up with NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.

In-demand free agent Leonard left NBA champions the Toronto Raptors for the Clippers in a blockbuster deal after the Los Angeles franchise agreed a trade with the Thunder.

The Clippers sent five draft picks, plus Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in exchange for six-time All-Star and 2018-19 MVP finalist George.

Ahead of his move to Western Conference rivals the Clippers, George – who left the Indiana Pacers for Oklahoma City in 2017 – thanked the Thunder.

"Thank you Oklahoma for two great years, you took me in as one of your own from the day I touched down," George wrote via Instagram on Saturday.

"Thank you to the fans who make representing those 3 letters mean something. Thank you to Sam and Clay for being the best management a franchise and player could ask for.

"Thank you to the friends within the organisation that took care of my family and I whenever we needed help. The picture shown is a bond that can't be broken I truly loved and enjoyed the race from start to finish. Thank you OKLAHOMA! You already know what it is @russwest44! Love brodie!"

Leonard was heavily recruiting George to join him at the Clippers, even though the latter had signed a four-year deal with the Thunder last offseason. 

The Thunder could have denied George's request and tried to make it work, but they reportedly were concerned it could turn into a situation similar to Anthony Davis' departure from the New Orleans Pelicans – who eventually sent the disgruntled big man to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Oklahoma City finished the regular season in sixth position in the Western Conference with a 49-33 record. The Thunder suffered a disappointing early exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers.

George averaged 28 points on 43.8 per cent shooting in 2018-19. He also averaged 8.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 77 games last season.

The balance of power continues to shift in the NBA, as Kawhi Leonard's decision to join the Los Angeles Clippers makes the league a lot more interesting.

At the beginning of 2018-19, many seemed to believe the road to the NBA Finals ran through the Boston Celtics. Then the Milwaukee Bucks posted the best record in the league just a year removed from finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference. 

But it was the Toronto Raptors who dethroned the
Golden State Warriors in the end, and now they will have a new look without their superstar. Plenty of other teams are hungry for glory and now is the perfect time to strike.

Here are three teams that could now take over the Eastern Conference:

 

Milwaukee Bucks

The Eastern Conference is now wide open, but the Bucks are ahead of the pack. After all, they retained two All-Stars — one being reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Milwaukee underwent a serious transformation under Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer last season. Antetokounmpo has put up historically strong numbers in the paint, but the Bucks were also among the league leaders in three-point attempts.

Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez will likely be constants, but it remains to be seen how the chemistry will be after losing Malcolm Brogdon.

Milwaukee simply have the centrepiece every other team wish they had in Antetokounmpo, so there is no reason to count them out just yet.

Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers may have lost an All-Star-calibre player in Jimmy Butler this offseason, but they will be just fine.

Philadelphia were one circus buzzer-beater away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals last season and are bringing back plenty of talent in 2019-20. The 76ers flipped Butler to the Miami Heat in exchange for Josh Richardson and lured Al Horford away from the Celtics, giving them what might be the best defensive line-up in basketball.

Small Ball? Philadelphia have never heard of it, as the shortest wingspan on their current roster is 6-10. 

The 76ers' starting group will likely feature Richardson, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons, Al Horford and Joel Embiid. And then there is second-year guard Zhaire Smith, who was voted the most athletic player in the 2018 NBA Draft by his peers but missed most of last season due to an unfortunate allergic reaction.

Philadelphia have size, playmaking, strong defense and four players that could get legitimate All-Star consideration in the coming season. Embiid's questionable health could be a facto but getting a versatile big like Horford that can fill in if he goes down will definitely keep the 76ers in contender conversations.

Brooklyn Nets

Even if Kevin Durant cannot play until 2020, the Nets should be better this season. They lost D'Angelo Russell to the Warriors, but Kyrie Irving can be a considerable upgrade if the pieces come together just right.

Both Russell and Irving are high-usage guards, but Irving is more efficient and poses the kind of threat that makes every player on the opposing team watch him when the ball is in his hands. 

Brooklyn added veterans in DeAndre Jordan and Garrett Temple that should pair nicely with returning pieces like Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris, who was one of the most prolific three-point shooters in 2018-19 — converting 47.4 per cent from beyond the arc.

But the wild card is Caris LeVert, who arguably was the Nets' best player before a leg injury sidelined him last November. The 24-year-old guard was establishing himself as Brooklyn's go-to guy and now he has had a whole offseason to recover after showing flashes of his potential in the 2018-19 playoffs.

Adding Durant to a group like this could prove to be lethal and would certainly make the Nets a force to be reckoned with.

The Toronto Raptors sent "nothing but good wishes" to Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green after they agreed moves away from the NBA champions in free agency.

Both stars played key roles in the Raptors' 2018-19 success, with Leonard the NBA Finals MVP, but the two will move on ahead of next season.

Leonard is set to sign a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, while Green is going to the same city with the Lakers.

The Raptors acknowledged the two big departures in a series of Twitter posts on Saturday, including a statement from president Masai Ujiri.

"We are very thankful for the year Kawhi and Danny played with us here in Toronto," he wrote. "And I know the city and the entire country of Canada are grateful for everything they did to help us win our first NBA Championship.

"On behalf of the Raptors, I say a very heartfelt thank you to Kawhi and to Danny, and we send them and their families nothing but good wishes.

"As an organisation, the Raptors will focus on the future and continue our pursuit of a second championship."

Leonard is yet to discuss his move, but Green posted a video message on social media.

"I had a fun time in the city of Toronto, love the organisation," he said. "Thank you, guys. Thank you to my team-mates. Thank you to the fans. Always have a great place in my heart. Never forget obviously the historic run we had."

DeMarcus Cousins has agreed a deal to join the Los Angeles Lakers, while Rajon Rondo is set to re-sign with the team.

After missing out on Kawhi Leonard, who signed for cross-town rivals the Clippers, the Lakers are poised to bring in six free agents, three of whom played for them last season.

Earlier on Saturday, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee and Quinn Cook all agreed deals.

Now Cousins, 28, has been added to the mix after his agent Jeff Schwartz told ESPN that a one-year, $3.5million contract had been agreed.

The Miami Heat had been keen to sign Cousins, who spent last season with the Golden State Warriors, but Anthony Davis was reportedly among the Lakers stars who persuaded him to come to the Staples Center.

The four-time All-Star made a shock move to the Warriors last year as he recovered from a torn Achilles. He played 30 games before sustaining a quadriceps injury in the playoffs but did return to play a part in the NBA Finals.

Rondo, meanwhile, reportedly returns to the Lakers for just $2.6m. The deal contains a second year with a player option.

The 33-year-old averaged 9.2 points, 8.0 assists and 5.3 rebounds in 46 games last season, where his leadership was cited as a positive influence despite a disappointing season for the franchise that saw them miss the postseason despite landing LeBron James.

Kawhi Leonard shook up the NBA with his decision to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency just a few weeks after leading the Toronto Raptors to their first title.

While the Raptors remained confident Leonard would re-sign with them and continue to build a legacy, the star ultimately chose to return to his hometown of Los Angeles and pair up with Paul George. 

Leonard's decision made a huge impact on the league as a whole, but how will it affect the Raptors, the city of Toronto and the East?

 

No outrage for Toronto, just disappointment 

After waiting until late on Friday night - or the early hours of Saturday for the East Coast - Leonard finally made his free agency decision. Much to Toronto's disappointment, he decided to move on after just one season with the Raptors. 

Some may question whether this taints his legacy in a city where he made such a significant impact in such a short time, becoming an icon throughout Canada, but the overall consensus and initial reaction in Toronto is that it will not.

Yes, the Raptors would have loved to have Leonard back. But no, there will not be outrage. 

It will be a hard goodbye, but there should not be hard feelings.

 

Raptors likely will stay the course and develop

The Raptors had a couple options entering free agency: stay the course with their young talent or to make drastic changes in preparation of losing Leonard. So what are they going to do without the NBA Finals MVP?

It is likely they go for the first option and keep building around their young core. Toronto might try to add two or three mid-level players to fill the void because there are no clear stars left.

The Raptors have done a good job drafting in recent years so it makes sense to keep investing in the talent they already have. A player like Pascal Siakam could have to step up and be a consistent playmaker, and let us not forget about OG Anunoby, who was sidelined for much of the playoffs. 

There is no way to replace a player like Leonard, but the Raptors will stay in the mix if Siakam and Anunoby step up.

 

The East is wide open again

The story in 2018 was about how wide open the East would be without LeBron James, who left the Cleveland Cavaliers to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency. It is the same story this year. 

The Raptors surprised everyone by beating the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals and they would likely have been among the favourites to win the championship again with Leonard still on board.

Now, it is anyone's title to win as the West continues to build. 

After Kawhi Leonard reportedly signed with the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency, cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Lakers have wasted no time filling out their roster with the addition of four players. 

Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee and Quinn Cook are all poised to sign with the Lakers.

Green, who was Leonard's team-mate with NBA champions the Toronto Raptors and included in last year's trade with the San Antonio Spurs, indicated he was waiting for the Finals MVP to make his decision before agreeing to a new deal. 

But after reports came out that Leonard intends to sign with the Clippers, Green agreed to a two-year, $30million deal with the Lakers, and announced his decision on social media.

He said: "I would just like to announce, I'm proudly letting everyone know I'm excited for the next two years that I will be teaming up with my new team-mates in LA, the Los Angeles Lakers. 

"Looking forward to playing with those guys. Should be great.

"I had a fun time in the city of Toronto, love the organisation. Thank you guys. Thank you to my team-mates. Thank you to the fans. Always have a great place in my heart. 

"Never forget obviously the historic run we had. LA, here I come. I'm excited. Let's get this show on the road."

According to ESPN, Caldwell-Pope is now set to re-sign with the Lakers on a two-year deal worth $16m. He averaged 11.4 points, his lowest since his rookie season, while shooting 43 per cent from the field in 82 games last season, when he was on a one-year contract paying $12m. 

McGee also will re-sign with the Lakers for two years on a deal worth $8.2m that has a player option, while point guard Cook is set to arrive on a two-year, $6m pact after spending two years with the Golden State Warriors.

Caldwell-Pope, McGee, Cook and Green join a rebuilding Lakers team that has seen a lot of change since the season ended. 

They will play alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis as the team works to improve from a 37-45 record from last season. There is also a new head coach in place, Frank Vogel.

The NBA is going to look quite different in 2019-20.

After leading the Toronto Raptors to their first title, Kawhi Leonard will reportedly team up with Paul George at the Los Angeles Clippers next season.

It is a move that will reignite the rivalry with a much-changed Los Angeles Lakers, while the Golden State Warriors have seen Kevin Durant jump ship and move to the Eastern Conference.

We look at the teams with a 'big two' following a series of movements in an incredible offseason.

 

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

It was a big surprise when the Clippers took defending champions the Warriors to Game 6 in the playoffs, but they will undoubtedly be a better team next season.

The additions of Leonard and six-time All-Star George – although the latter came at a high price that included sending Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and five first-round draft picks, four of which are unprotected, and two pick swaps to the Oklahoma City Thunder – have created a new force in the Western Conference that will be looking to contend straight away.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Despite finally pulling off the acquisition of Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, the Lakers freed up enough cap space for a run at Leonard.

However, they were unable to seal a deal with the NBA Finals MVP and will instead look to improve on LeBron James' disappointing first season by forming a truly formidable duo with Davis.

BROOKLYN NETS

Durant ruptured his Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, but it did not lead to a reduction in interest in the Warriors star.

The 2014 MVP decided to end his time at Golden State and team up with Kyrie Irving at the Brooklyn Nets, who consequently captured two of the three biggest free agents on the market to step up their rebuild several notches.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

It looked as though the Warriors would dominate again when they signed DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year deal in the last offseason, despite the center being sidelined by an Achilles injury.

Cousins has not returned and with Durant out the door, Golden State will be relying on the backcourt tandem of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – reportedly on a five-year max contract – though trading for D'Angelo Russell could lighten the load.

HOUSTON ROCKETS

Having lost out to the Miami Heat in their reported pursuit of Jimmy Butler, the Rockets will go again with James Harden and Chris Paul leading the charge.

General manager Daryl Morey rejected reports of a rift between Harden and Paul, though he will be keen for the team to start winning as early as possible following a sluggish start in 2018-19.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

The Blazers made a stunning run to the Western Conference Finals before being swept by the Warriors.

They will hope to go one better after tying Damian Lillard down to a four-year contract extension in the offseason, ensuring his partnership with fellow sharpshooter CJ McCollum will continue.

Los Angeles is set for a blockbuster NBA rivalry next season after Kawhi Leonard reportedly agree to sign on for the Clippers.

With Paul George also said to be joining from the Oklahoma City Thunder, an exciting Clippers team is set to go head-to-head against a Los Angeles Lakers franchise fronted by NBA icon LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Leonard, who spearheaded the Toronto Raptors to a maiden championship last season, is a signing who can make the Clippers – who finished eighth in the Western Conference in 2018-19 – a real force to be reckoned with.

In July 2018, it was the Lakers making waves when they drafted in superstar James from the Cleveland Cavaliers.

There is now some real star power across both Los Angeles teams, and inspired by this, we have taken a look at times when cross-city rivalries sent the sporting world into a frenzy.

 

Manchester City v Manchester United

For a long time, Manchester City lived in Manchester United's shadow, suffering multiple relegations while their rivals won a treble and dominated the domestic game under Alex Ferguson's tutelage. Things changed in 2008, however, when City were bought by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, owner of the Abu Dhabi United Group, and they have since gone on to become much more than the "noisy neighbours" that Ferguson dubbed them in 2009.

The pendulum did not swing fully in City's favour until the last day of the 2011-12, when they clinched their first Premier League title in the most dramatic of circumstances. Sergio Aguero's last-gasp goal in a 3-2 win against QPR is the thing of folklore, the Argentina striker scoring after Edin Dzeko had already levelled the scores in stoppage time. It denied Ferguson's United, who thought they had the job done having won at Sunderland until news of City's sensational finale filtered through.

United got their revenge the following season, but since Ferguson left, the Red Devils have hardly come close to keeping pace with City.

Rabbitohs v Roosters

The oldest and fiercest rivalry in the NRL is between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Sydney Roosters.

Their rivalry escalated in the 1990s when the increased financial standing of the Roosters came in stark contrast to the lack of funds available to the Rabbitohs, who broke a 10-year, 13-game losing streak against their nemesis in 2005.

In the last regular-season rounds of 2013 and 2014, the Roosters came out on top against their rivals to claim the Minor Premiership, though the Rabbitohs won in the preliminary final in the latter campaign to reach their first grand final in 43 years. Four years later, the Roosters defeated Souths 12-4 in the preliminary final at Allianz Stadium, in front of a record crowd.

Mets v Yankees 

In 2000, the New York Mets and New York Yankees met in the Major League Baseball World Series - the first time two teams from the Big Apple had met in the showpiece since 1956.

Referred to as the "Subway Series", it was the Yankees who came out on top with a dominant 4-1 series win, despite having lost 15 of their last 18 regular season games.

It was a third successive World Series triumph for the Yankees, who also made it to the same stage in 2001, but lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The rivals have not met in a World Series since, and it took the Mets another 15 years to make it back to the big stage.

UCLA v USC

One of the biggest college football rivalries comes in the form of the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans.

The most famous encounter between the two universities came in 1967, in a match known as "the game of the century." It matched USC - with OJ Simpson - against a UCLA side including Gary Beban, with the Conference Championship on the line, while Simpson and Beban were competing for the Heisman Trophy.

It was USC who ran out victorious in a 21-20 victory and they went on to defeat Indiana in the Rose Bowl and win the National Championship. Beban claimed the Heisman Trophy, despite Simpson's notable performance in the encounter and 1,543 rushing yards over the season.

Boca Juniors v River Plate

One of the most famous and fierce local rivalries in football, or indeed any sport, the Superclasico is an incredible Buenos Aires derby between Argentina's two biggest clubs - Boca Juniors and River Plate.

In 2018, both sides progressed to the final of the Copa Libertadores, making it the first Superclasico final of an international competition. It was a two-legged encounter with one match to be played at each ground.

Tensions were high, and after a 2-2 draw in the first leg at Boca's home Estadio Alberto J. Armando, they boiled over in dramatic and violent fashion prior to the second leg at El Monumental, with the match eventually called off after the Boca coach was attacked en route to the stadium.

After much controversy, the second leg finally took place at Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, with River winning 3-1 to secure a 5-2 aggregate victory and their fourth Copa Libertadores title.

Kawhi Leonard will reportedly spend next season with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The star has agreed to terms with the Clippers, according to ESPN, which cites unidentified league sources.

Leonard, 28, is fresh off a season in which he led the Toronto Raptors to the franchise's first NBA title and claimed Finals MVP honours. It appears as if he felt playing for the Clippers was his best option moving forward.

Incredibly, ESPN also report Oklahoma City Thunder star Paul George is joining Leonard at the Clippers, creating a blockbuster rivalry with the Los Angeles Lakers, who have LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Leonard missed 22 games in 2018-19, as the Raptors chose to use load management as a way to monitor a quad injury he suffered in 2016-17 as a member of the Spurs, an injury that paved the way for his exit from San Antonio.

He still averaged 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in 60 appearances in the 2018-19 regular season – helping Toronto finish second in the Eastern Conference with a 58-24 record.

His numbers got even better in the postseason, as he averaged 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and led all players in minutes. Though he led the Raptors to their first title, his signature moment came in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals with his buzzer-beater to eliminate the Philadelphia 76ers.

The two-time Defensive Player of the Year and three-time All-Star now has two Finals MVP awards under his belt after Toronto topped the Golden State Warriors in six games.

Remember when the Toronto Raptors created history by winning the NBA title? You should do, as it was less than three weeks ago when the Finals finished.

However, with the playoffs over and the draft done and dusted, it is now time for the NBA to move on to the next major event - free agency.

At 18:00 ET (22:00 GMT) on Sunday, the negotiating can officially begin. Those out of contract get the chance to hold meetings with prospective new employers, and this year's list of available players includes some of the biggest names in the league.

The Los Angeles Lakers created waves by acquiring Anthony Davis, and now it is time to sit back and see how that blockbuster deal ripples through the rest of the NBA. It only takes one big trade – or two major injuries to deposed champions – to create a completely different landscape.

So, before the madness starts, we look at those who can expect to be making the headlines in the coming days and weeks.

 

THE TEAMS

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers have grand plans but are light on numbers. Trading for Davis came at a high price and they have gutted the roster with the clear aim of another superstar to combine with Davis and LeBron James. However, the desire to hit the jackpot has forced them to mortgage their long-term future.

Los Angeles Clippers

Yes, that's right, there are two teams hoping to make it big in LA. The Clippers reached the playoffs last season and landed a couple of haymakers on the Golden State Warriors in the first round, yet that was all a welcome bonus. In the shadow of their city rivals, they want to land one of the big fish in the free agency pond.

Brooklyn Nets

Like the Clippers, the Nets surprisingly reached the postseason. They did so with a collection of players cobbled together through trades and the draft. There is room to add superstars (note the plural there) to those still under contract in Brooklyn, but that will alter the dynamic of a group that gelled so well together.

New York Knicks

The Knicks are hoping the lure of New York can help add a star to make them a headline act again. But, much like the Lakers in Los Angeles, they suddenly have noisy neighbours. It will be a major blow to the Knicks if any of their leading targets opt to relocate to Brooklyn instead.

And the rest...

While Kyrie Irving failed to pan out as planned, the Boston Celtics still have young talent and enough cap room to work something out. Then there is the New Orleans Pelicans, minus Davis but with top draft pick Zion Williamson and a number of the Lakers' cast-offs. Watch out for the Denver Nuggets and the Philadelphia 76ers as well, two teams with serious title aspirations.

 

THE PLAYERS

Kevin Durant – The ruptured Achilles suffered in the NBA Finals could cost him an entire season but will not hurt him in terms of his next contract. Long linked with the Knicks, he could still yet opt to stay with the Warriors. Even with his injury, Durant is going to be in high demand.

Kawhi Leonard – Toronto's gamble to trade for Leonard paid off in spectacular fashion. The lure of defending the title with largely the same roster may sway Leonard to remain in Canada a little while longer, though Los Angeles has always been rumoured as his likely long-term destination.

Kyrie Irving – The point guard did not perform as expected in Boston, but that will not deter teams from showing interest. Could he join up again with LeBron at the Lakers? Possibly, though Brooklyn are thought to be heading the queue to secure his signature.

Kemba Walker – Irving is not the only All-Star point guard up for grabs. Charlotte can offer Walker more money to remain a Hornet, yet their former first-round pick could decide the time is right to buzz off. Boston and the Dallas Mavericks are reportedly keen.

Jimmy Butler – The 76ers leaned heavily on Butler in the playoffs, and the presence of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons makes Philadelphia a genuine contender in the East. Both Los Angeles franchises could call, while the Houston Rockets and Miami Heat are rumoured to be exploring sign-and-trade possibilities.

Klay Thompson – After Durant went down in the Finals, Golden State suffered a second serious injury blow when Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6. So, could we have seen the last of the Splash Brothers in tandem? The Warriors will be loath to lose Stephen Curry's back-court partner, particularly to a Western Conference rival.

And the rest…

Malcolm Brogdon, Kristaps Porzingis and D'Angelo Russell are all restricted free agents, giving their teams the chance to match any offer they receive. Khris Middleton, JJ Redick and Bojan Bogdanovic are shooters who can expect to be well paid, while big men Al Horford and Nikola Vucevic will not go short with their next contracts. Then there is DeMarcus Cousins, who showed flashes with Golden State after returning from injury.

Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard have been discussing potential scenarios that could put them on the same team next season, it has been reported.

Ten-time NBA All-Star Durant and reigning Finals MVP Leonard are expected to be the most sought-after talents in free agency – which starts on Sunday – and have spoken about potentially teaming up, according to ESPN.

The outlet also claimed the two teams that could sign them are the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks.

The Athletic also reported the Clippers believe offering the chance to play alongside Leonard is how they will be able to secure Durant, despite competition from the Brooklyn Nets. 

Durant declined his $31.5million option with the Golden State Warriors to become an unrestricted free agent. It has been rumoured he will sign with a different team in free agency, but his long-term future became complicated when he ruptured his Achilles during the Finals defeat to Leonard's Toronto Raptors.

The 30-year-old had surgery, but Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it was likely he will sit out the entirety of next season. 

At one point, the Nets were considered frontrunners to land Durant, but it was reported on Friday they were no longer the favourites.

The Knicks are understood to think they have a good chance to sign Durant, but team owner James Dolan reportedly urged team executives to use "caution" regarding the 2014 MVP's injury and wants to see test results and a projected prognosis before committing to a deal.

Leonard, on the other hand, opted out of the final year of his contract with the Raptors. He reportedly is set to meet with teams around the NBA and has been linked to the Nets and Los Angeles Lakers, though it has been suggested he could stay at Toronto after winning the NBA championship.

LeBron James has reportedly given Anthony Davis a welcome gift at the Los Angeles Lakers - his iconic number 23 shirt.

Davis is widely expected to join the Lakers next week in a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, joining James, who left the Cleveland Cavaliers for Los Angeles last year.

James wore the 23 shirt last season and throughout two stints with the Cavaliers, but it is said he will present Davis with the number, which he also held with the Pelicans.

Four-time NBA MVP James wore the six shirt while with the Miami Heat.

News of the gift to Davis came shortly after claims the Lakers traded Mo Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Jemerrio Jones, along with their 2022 second-round pick, to the Washington Wizards to clear cap space.

With Davis seemingly set to decline his $4million trade kicker, the Lakers would be left with $32m to bring in another player on a max deal.

One option would be Kawhi Leonard, the inspiration behind the Toronto Raptors' championship win, and separate reports on Thursday suggested he will meet with both the Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers.

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