Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is excited for the team's NBA season-opener against the Los Angeles Clippers.

James and the Lakers will open their campaign against city rivals the Clippers – led by Kawhi Leonard – in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Three-time NBA champion James is coming off a difficult first season in LA, where a groin injury restricted him to 55 games as the Lakers missed the playoffs for the sixth successive campaign.

James – who failed to appear in the postseason for the first time since 2004-05 – cannot wait to get started against the Clippers.

"Opening night is great. It's like the first day of school," James, who averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists for the Lakers after arriving from the Cleveland Cavaliers, told reporters on Sunday.

"Laying your clothes out the night before. Just that excitement of getting things back going.

"I love to play the game. I obviously had the longest lay-off of my career, so to be where I'm at physically and mentally, no matter who we opened up against. For everybody, Tuesday is a great day."

Danny Green is one of the new faces at the Lakers, whose offseason was headlined by the recruitment of All-Star Anthony Davis.

Green teamed up with Leonard last season to lead the Toronto Raptors to their maiden NBA championship before moving to the Lakers, while the latter joined the Clippers.

"Everybody's excited to get the season started, but we know we're nowhere near where we want to be at — most teams aren't," Green said. "So, even though it's regular season, these games are going to be very much like preseason games.

"We just try to get better and win as we're getting better and getting to learn each other — learn the systems, learn our identity and also how to play other teams and other team's identity.

"But we're excited from all angles: From the players, to the coaches, to staff to the fans and we're going to have some fun with it but we're not nowhere where we want to be."

LeBron James said he will not address the turmoil between China and the NBA following the fallout of his comments regarding Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar James was critical of Morey on Monday, labelling the Rockets GM "misinformed" for his tweet about the unrest involving China and Hong Kong.

Morey issued an apology for a now-deleted tweet, that read "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong" amid the ongoing protests in the region.

The tweet angered Chinese officials and caused backlash in the Asian country against the Rockets and the NBA, which has financial interests in China worth billions of dollars.

James' comments reportedly did not go down well in Hong Kong, with the four-time MVP's jersey burned and trampled in demonstrations.

"I had a sense of [how] what I said felt for me," James said on Tuesday following questions about his comments and how they would be received in Hong Kong. "And like I said yesterday, when I speak upon things, I speak from a very logical standpoint on things that hit home for me. Yesterday, obviously, I gave thoughts on what I felt and how I saw things that transpired from that week that we were [in China]."

When asked whether he plans to learn more about the anti-government protests in Hong Kong, James added: "I plan on being here and being a captain of this team and trying to figure out how we can win a championship.

"That's my main goal right now. I feel like I talked about it yesterday. I tweeted out responses to people not understanding my knowledge and where it came from with my brain and learning from the situation. I'm talking about it now. I won't talk about it again.

"I'd be cheating my team-mates by continuing to harp on something that won't benefit us. We're trying to win a championship. That's what we're here for. We're not politicians. It's a huge political thing. But we are leaders and we can step up at times. I'm not saying at this particular time, but if you don't feel like you should speak on things, you shouldn't have to."

 

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James criticised Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for his "misinformed" tweet about the unrest between China and Hong Kong.

Rockets GM Morey issued an apology for a now-deleted tweet, that read "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong" amid the ongoing protests in the region.

The tweet angered Chinese officials and caused backlash in the Asian country against the Rockets and the NBA, which has financial interests in China worth billions of dollars.

James was asked about the situation on Monday and while he believes in free speech, the four-time MVP was not happy with Morey's comments.

"I don't want to get into a ... feud with Daryl but I believe he wasn't educated about the situation at hand and he spoke," James told reporters. "So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually.

"Just be careful what we tweet ... even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech. But there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too."

Morey quickly issued a clarification on his tweet at the time, saying it reflected his opinion, not that of the Rockets or the NBA. The NBA issued an apology to China, which in turn drew widespread and bipartisan condemnation in the United States.

"I think when we talk about the political side, I think it's a very delicate situation," James, who was speaking prior to the preseason matchup against the Golden State Warriors, added. "Very sensitive situation. For me personally, if any of you guys know me or always cover me, you guys know when I speak about something, I speak about something I'm very knowledgeable about. Something that hits home for me. Something I'm very passionate about.

"I feel like with this particular situation, not only was I not informed enough about — I just felt like it was something not only myself or my team-mates or our organisation had enough information to even talk about it at that point in time. And we still feel the same way."

Anthony Davis became the latest star to suffer an injury during NBA preseason as the Brooklyn Nets eased to a 91-77 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in China.

Davis suffered a sprained thumb midway through the first quarter, joining the Nets' Kyrie Irving on the sidelines after he aggravated a facial injury in the sides' previous meeting on Thursday.

Star Lakers signing Davis tweaked his thumb while going up to block a shot at the rim, staying in the game for a short period before heading to the locker room for further evaluation.

He came back to the sidelines with an ice pack taped to his right hand and was ruled out for the rest of the game.

Davis served as the starting center, finishing the game with six points while shooting 2-of-7 from the field - both buckets coming off assists from LeBron James.

The former New Orleans Pelicans superstar added three rebounds and two blocks in 12 minutes before leaving due to the injury.

Los Angeles were able to keep it close through the first half but saw the Nets pull clear in the third quarter as Caris LeVert shone in Irving's absence.

LeVert left the previous clash early with a knock, but he scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and grabbed four rebounds. Taurean Prince also played a big role off the bench with 14 points.

The game brought to an end a trip to China that has been clouded in controversy stemming from a since-deleted tweet by Daryl Morey earlier this week, with the Houston Rockets GM supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

The two scheduled fixtures went ahead but all media availability was cancelled, overshadowing what had been expected to be a celebration of the NBA in one of its key international markets.

As the teams return to the United States, the Lakers' next preseason game is set for Monday against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.

The Nets host the Toronto Raptors next on Friday at Barclays Center.

Kyrie Irving's Brooklyn Nets debut lasted just a minute as the much-discussed NBA preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers went ahead in Shanghai on Thursday.

Irving, who signed for the Nets alongside the injured Kevin Durant for the upcoming season, was trying to play through a facial fracture suffered in a pickup game last month, wearing a clear mask.

However, the former Boston Celtics star appeared to aggravate the issue early on as he clashed with Rajon Rondo and was immediately withdrawn.

The contest at least finally meant some basketball was played amid a week of controversy stemming from a since-deleted tweet by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

Morey's comments overshadowed what had been expected to be a celebration of the NBA in one of their key international markets in China.

Some fallout continued, with media duties for both teams and league commissioner Adam Silver cancelled, but the game represented a brief respite from a tumultuous few days.

The Nets prevailed 114-111 as some of the NBA's top stars took to the floor, although Caris LeVert followed Irving in making an early exit with an apparent eye problem.

Their absences made Spencer Dinwiddie the key man as he scored 20 points and Taurean Prince added 18 to lead six Nets in double figures.

LeBron James scored 20 points in 24 minutes to pace the Lakers, as he and Anthony Davis (16 points in 25 minutes) shared the floor as team-mates for the first time.

Brooklyn's Theo Pinson broke 111-111 tie with 20.9 seconds to play by hitting the second of two free throws, before Dzanan Musa's dunk with nine seconds left capped the scoring.

Los Angeles had a last shot to tie on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's three-pointer as the clock ran down, but it bounced away.

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry wants the comparisons of Zion Williamson to LeBron James to stop.

Williamson, the top pick in the 2019 draft, has been touted as one of the NBA's next greats, which has led to him being likened to future Hall of Famer James

However, Gentry wants to nip such talk in the bud as the preseason gets underway.

"They shouldn't do that [comparing]," the Pelicans coach said, via ESPN. "We are not doing that. We are comparing Zion to Zion. We want Zion to be the best Zion Williamson that he can be. Not anybody else. We want him to be the best basketball player he can become using his name and no comparison.

"I know that it's inevitable that that's going to be the case, but we are not drinking that Kool-Aid."

Williamson garnered buzz during his lone season with Duke, where it was quickly projected he would be the first overall pick in the draft.

"There's very few guys — at 19 years old — who can come in and impact this league," Gentry said. "There's one in California but there's also not anybody like him."

Despite the hype, Williamson and Gentry seem to be trying to have fun before the season.

When Williamson walked past Gentry as he was talking to reporters, he joked: "Did they ask about me?" 

Gentry replied: "Now why would they do that?"

Williamson will take to the court in his first preseason game on Monday against the Atlanta Hawks.

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel warned NBA rivals "you're going to get smashed in the mouth" when facing LeBron James and the team.

Following six consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance, the Lakers head into 2019-20 with huge expectations after acquiring All-Star Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard to join James in Los Angeles.

The Lakers finished their first of two-a-day session on Saturday, and after, Vogel told reporters the tough play is what other teams can expect when they face the Los Angeles squad.

"You're coming to play [the] L.A. Lakers, you're going to get hit," Vogel said. "You're going to get smashed in the mouth."

Vogel is entering his first year at the helm after replacing Luke Walton and the Lakers coach is stressing the importance of defence early.

"He's a defensive coach and wants to have a defensive mindset," Davis said. "We're going to be a defensive team. We made sure we covered a lot of defensive schemes today."

Davis – a six-time All-Star – added: "Obviously, you're not going to try to injure anyone or do anything stupid. We know we have to play with physicality. We did a good job doing that today. So in a way, that makes it a lot easier against our opponent."

The Lakers are hoping to improve on their efforts last season, where they finished ranked 13th in defence.

Los Angeles allowed 108.9 points per 100 possessions, but on the other end of the floor, the Lakers were actually worse. The team ranked 24th in offense by scoring 107.4 points per 100 possessions.

"You know we got a lot of firepower offensively," Vogel said. "But establish that defensive mindset of playing hard and playing tenacious and being physical. And on offense, just beginning to get organised and talking about the importance of playing for each other."

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James cannot wait to team up with Anthony Davis during the 2019-20 NBA season.

The Lakers held a media day on Friday as the team prepare to open training camp.

Four-time NBA MVP James heaped praise on Davis, who joined the Lakers in the offseason via a blockbuster trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.

"I know the calibre of player he is, not only from a basketball standpoint but also from a leadership standpoint and what he can bring to any franchise," James said.

"It's exciting to have such a beautiful young mind, a beautiful player and also a great leader, as well … I think the basketball will speak for itself, but he's just an all-round great person."

"We all know how great Anthony Davis is," James continued (via USA Today). "If we're not playing through him when he's on the floor, there's no sense to have him on the floor. He's that great."

While there are huge expectations for these Lakers, James and everyone else was cautious in making predictions, perhaps understandable for a franchise that have not even made the playoffs since 2013.

When asked about his expectations for this year, forward Kyle Kuzma said: "For the team, make [the] playoffs. That's it. That's the first step. We can't talk about nothing else because this organisation hasn't been in the playoffs for years."

When someone asked Lakers GM Rob Pelinka if this season would be a disappointment if the team do not win a championship, he replied: "Coach [Frank Vogel] made it very clear in the film room just now that success for us is a great two-day practice tomorrow. We optimise that practice and take it one day at a time. We're not going to jump to June."

But the addition of Davis makes the Lakers one of the teams to watch this season. Expectations are huge, but Davis is ready to get started.

"I'm just ready to play … to be with a historical franchise like this … I couldn't ask for nothing better," Davis said on Friday. "I just want to win … I think this year we have a chance to do something special."

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel explained his approach to working with stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis this season.

Vogel will lead the Lakers in the upcoming NBA season after Luke Walton left Los Angeles, where it has been six successive campaigns without playoff basketball.

The Lakers have boosted their postseason and championship chances by luring Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to team up with superstar James.

Vogel knows he is facing big expectations entering his first season and in a Q&A with NBA.com, the former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach said: "Talent-wise, they're the two best players I'll ever have had the opportunity to coach. 

"That brings a lot of fun, a lot of excitement to what we're able to do on the court. It brings a lot of challenges too. You have to make sure you're managing them the right way and putting them in the right positions to feel good about their roles and what's happening around them. There are challenges involved with that. So I'm looking forward to how that all is going to play out."

Vogel replaces Walton, who parted ways with the Lakers after three seasons and just one with James.

Walton and James built a 20-14 record before the 15-time All-Star missed five weeks due to injury.

Vogel acknowledged some of the concerns that coaches have when it comes to leading James, but said he is not relying on the three-time NBA champion's past relationships with coaches to determine how the two will bond on the court.

"I only know how he's been with me. That's the only measuring stick I'm going to use," Vogel said. "I'm not going to look at how it's been with his past coaches. That really doesn't concern me. I want to shape my own opinion of him as a person and one of the greatest ever. I'm going to take my approach and work together with him to hopefully do something special."

As for Davis? Vogel explained that it will be important to determine whether the six-time All-Star plays forward or center.

"To me, he's effective in both positions. But I don't think it's wise when your mindset is to be at your best going into the playoffs, to have him banging with centers for 82 games full time," Vogel added. "Does that mean he's never going to do it in the regular season? No, of course he's going to play some center in the regular season. But we want to make sure we keep the end goal in sight and getting him to April, for that playoff run, the right way."

Vogel said despite the high expectations, he is prepared for whatever this season may bring.

"We have the pieces to compete for a championship. To have expectations that it's all going to come together immediately might be reaching a little bit," Vogel said. "I'm sure we’ll have some bumps in the road. But hopefully as these guys gel … we have a number of guys with terrific resumes, but they have to learn each other. And they'll have to learn each other quickly.

"Then we'll be in the mix for the regular season and positioning ourselves for a playoff run. You just never know how quickly that process is going to play out. So hopefully, whatever the regular season looks like, by the time you get into the playoffs you're gelling at the right time and playing your best basketball."

Antoine Griezmann says he copied team-mate Lionel Messi and NBA superstar LeBron James as he scored his first Barcelona goals in Sunday's win over Real Betis.

The France star, a €120million signing from Atletico Madrid, struck twice as the champions secured a 5-2 victory at Camp Nou.

Griezmann got his first by prodding in Sergi Roberto's cross before bending home a fine strike from the edge of the area in the second half.

Carles Perez, Jordi Alba and Arturo Vidal completed Barca's scoring, with Betis' goals coming through Nabil Fekir and Loren Moron.

Griezmann celebrated his second by throwing confetti into the air and standing with arms outstretched, mimicking James' famous 'chalk toss' warm-up routine.

The forward also revealed how that goal came from watching Messi - who was in attendance but sidelined due to injury - do the same in training.

"I saw Leo do that in training and I copied him," Griezmann told Movistar.

He added of his celebration: "I like the ritual that LeBron James does before the games and I tried to copy him. I hope I can keep copying him for many more games - that would be the best signal."

After the game, Griezmann took to Twitter to say: "How beautiful it is to score at Camp Nou! Thank you for your support, may our colours shine!"

Barca's win was the first of the new season, Ernesto Valverde's side having lost 1-0 at Athletic Bilbao in their opening fixture.

They face Osasuna on Saturday in their final match before the international break.

LeBron James wants to "destroy as many people as possible" as the Los Angeles Lakers superstar looks to silence his doubters, according to Richard Jefferson.

James swapped the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Lakers in 2018-19 but he was unable to lead the storied NBA franchise to the playoffs.

The 34-year-old averaged 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists for the Lakers, who missed the postseason for the sixth successive season.

James, who also struggled with a groin injury that limited him to 55 games, failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004-05.

Jefferson, who played alongside James for the Cavaliers from 2015-17, backed the three-time champion and four-time MVP to bounce back in a big way.

"LeBron James will be the best player in basketball next year, again," Jefferson told ESPN's 'Get Up!' on Monday.

"Now, will he be the LeBron James from '08 and chasing down blocks? No. But, he's going to do so many different things. … I think he understands the disrespect. He's felt it over the course of his career, at different levels. Now, it's like 'Oh, you're old. You're not that guy anymore'.

"But, I think, really and truly, he's more focused on proving to people that basketball is the most important thing to him. And, the only way to do that is to go and destroy as many people as possible."

The Lakers' roster should be much improved this season after they acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks this offseason.

Los Angeles had cap space to add a third star next to James and Davis, but missed out on Kawhi Leonard, who joined cross-town rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lakers then signed Avery Bradley, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, Quinn Cook, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso to deals.

David Griffin wants people to know he maintains a "positive relationship" with LeBron James.

Griffin received scrutiny after comments regarding the Los Angeles Lakers and former Cleveland Cavaliers star were published in a recent Sports Illustrated story.

Griffin – who spent nearly a decade as an executive in Cleveland's organisation before joining the New Orleans Pelicans – said he was "miserable" during his time with the Cavaliers.

His comments shocked James, according to ESPN, and Griffin said on Friday his feelings were unrelated to the NBA superstar.

"The fact that there was so much scrutiny in everything that we did, when I was speaking about being uncomfortable and being miserable, it was my inability to deal with that media scrutiny," Griffin told ESPN.

"It wasn't the man himself. It was everything that came with a team led by LeBron James. It had nothing to do with being miserable with LeBron. We had and have a very positive relationship."

Griffin thought the article was going to focus on New Orleans as he helped rebuild the roster by sending Anthony Davis to the Lakers in exchange for Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks as well as the addition of Derrick Favors and JJ Redick and former Duke star Zion Williamson with the top pick in the 2019 draft.

Quinn Cook is excited he joined the Los Angeles Lakers, with the recruit expecting a better NBA season for the LeBron James' team.

The Lakers revamped their roster this offseason as they acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to pair with James.

They had the cap space to add a third max player, but missed out on Kawhi Leonard, who signed with city rivals the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lakers – who missed the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season – then went on to sign Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Avery Bradley to deals.

Cook swapped the Golden State Warriors for the Lakers on a two-year, $6million contract and he told USA Today's HoopsHype: "We have our team group chat going and the guys are very active in it.

"It feels like this team has been together for a while. Everyone has been really active in the group chat. … All of the guys are really excited to get things going. I know this NBA season will be one of the better ones for everyone."

"It was a great experience for me, learning more about the business and stuff like that, but it was a long couple of days," Cook added. "The biggest thing was joining a winner. That's why I play this game. I want to win as much as possible.

"Also, I wanted to go somewhere I'd have the opportunity to be a consistent role player and just try to help as much as possible. … I think the Lakers presented the perfect situation and opportunity for me."

Cook – who was part of Golden State's 2017-19 championship-winning team – spent the last two seasons with the Warriors and averaged 6.9 points in 14.3 minutes per game in 2018-19.

He was originally a restricted free agent, but Golden State rescinded his qualifying offer in order to create cap space to acquire D'Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade with the Brooklyn Nets.

"I am very thankful for my opportunity [in Golden State]," Cook said. "I think I really took a big step forward in my NBA career in the two years that I was there. I accomplished some things there that I'd always dreamed of accomplishing."

Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis did not publicly commit his long-term future to the NBA franchise after teaming up with LeBron James.

Davis swapped the New Orleans Pelicans for the Lakers via a trade earlier this month as he tries to lead Los Angeles to the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13.

The six-time All-Star is entering the final year of his contract and while he is tipped to re-sign with the Lakers, Davis gave nothing away during his introductory news conference.

"Honestly, I'm focused on this season," Davis told reporters in Los Angeles on Saturday.

"When I got traded here, my goal is to bring a championship here with the team that we have. And when that time comes around next year, then you can ask me that question and we'll revisit it.

"Right now, my focus is on this year, and trying to figure out how I can help this team, and help the organisation become a championship team."

The Lakers failed to acquire Davis from the Pelicans prior to last season's trade deadline but general manager Rob Pelinka eventually got his man in July.

Los Angeles traded away Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks for Davis, who was selected first by the Pelicans in 2012.

"Obviously it was tough for me to leave a city that I've been playing for for seven years, but I think it was best for me, and it was my time," the 26-year-old Davis said.

"But when I found out I was getting traded to the Lakers, I realised it was an unbelievable opportunity for me to be here with a wonderful organisation, and then to play alongside LeBron and obviously now the players that we have now ... to get the opportunity to do that and come here and play for an organisation that's all about winning - forget winning, winning championships, and that's the only goal - I think that was the biggest thing for me.

"Just the relief there, of not knowing the unknown anymore, and knowing where I was going to be next season."

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."

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