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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goran Dragic has decided to stay with NBA Finals runners-up the Miami Heat in free agency, the star guard announced.

A free agent following Miami's memorable run to the Finals at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Dragic opted to re-commit to the Heat on Friday.

Dragic's deal is reportedly for two years, with a team option in the second year.

In a Twitter post, Dragic wrote: "I'm glad that I can announce that I'm staying with my #HeatNationFamily.

"Let's finish the job we started!!! #LetsGoHeatnation #HeatNation #HeatFamily."

Dragic has called Miami home since being acquired from the Phoenix Suns in 2015.

The 34-year-old Slovenian – pick 45 in the 2008 NBA Draft – averaged 16.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game last season as the fifth-seeded Heat eventually fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.

Heat team-mate Meyers Leonard also reportedly decided to return to the Eastern Conference champions.

Leonard – who joined from the Portland Trail Blazers in 2019 – averaged 6.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game last season.

With a truncated NBA offseason charging ahead and the official start of free agency just hours away, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks said he does not anticipate making any blockbuster moves - despite James Harden's reported interest in being traded from the Houston Rockets.

Marks is charged with building a championship-worthy supporting cast around superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who now appear healthy for the start of the NBA season on December 22.

"I sincerely mean it when I say I like this group that we have," Marks said. "The group has been together for a while now and we continue to add some pieces to it.

"Training camp is going to be competitive and it is going to be fun with the group we have, and if things change, things change."

The Nets have already made a three-team deal that brought in Landry Shamet and Bruce Brown, a trade that Marks said cements the organisation's "win-now" strategy.

While Marks understandably would not make any definitive comments about his plans for the roster, he seemed to make subtle references to the speculation involving Harden.

"I couldn't tell you if we're done yet or not," he told reporters. "But I don't see us changing five or six guys on the roster if that's what you mean."

While it is unknown what Brooklyn would be required to give up for a former MVP and three-time scoring champion like Harden, the likes of Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen have been mentioned frequently in rumours.

"It's the ugly part of the business, the strange part, the awkward part, and I think it needs to be discussed," Marks said. "I've talked to several guys about this, and just said, 'Look, they're just rumours'.

"Let's go out there and concentrate on what we have at hand, which is the group that's here. They understand this is a business and let's be prepared."

Another hurdle in any potential move to acquire Harden is that the Nets likely would be unable to retain sharpshooter Joe Harris, who scored a career-high 14.5 points per game last season.

"[Keeping Harris] is definitely a priority. We hope that we can continue to build with Joe," Marks said. "Joe is an intricate piece to the programme here, not only what he does and what everybody sees on the court but off the court as well.

"He's seen this programme develop and developed alongside this programme. It would certainly be great to have him continue this ride with us."

The price for acquiring the 31-year-old Harden would certainly be high, but Brooklyn have never had a player average 30.0 points per game across a season. Harden has done so on three occasions.

Durant has two such campaigns, too, with the pair accounting for seven of the previous 11 scoring titles - a prize never won by a Nets player.

A potential Durant-Irving-Harden trio is tantalising, yet it may ultimately be too short-sighted for Marks' taste.

"There is the other side of look: take advantage of what we have right now and take advantage of the moment. We obviously have a talented group that we can put on the floor as is," Marks said. "Until we know what deals are being offered or what we are offering, it would be difficult to say.

"We wouldn't want to mortgage our future, no."

The Toronto Raptors will start the 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida after being unable to secure permission to play in Canada. 

Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Canadian government requires any "non-essential" travellers to quarantine for two weeks when arriving in the country. 

The Raptors, NBA champions in 2019, will now relocate to Tampa for the start of the new season, which begins on December 22. 

In a statement, Raptors president Masai Ujiri said: "The Raptors worked diligently with public health officials at the local, provincial and federal level to secure a plan that would permit us to play our 2020-21 season on home soil and on our home court at Scotiabank Arena. 

"These conversations were productive and we found strong support for the protocols we put forward.

"Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play, means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida. 

"So, we'll be away from our home and our fans for now. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I'm not sure that's possible for us. We love Toronto and Canada and we know we have the best fans in the NBA."

Romario Gill has signed with the Utah Jazz after not being selected in the 2020/21 NBA Draft.

Lionel Messi must be the Michael Jordan of Barcelona, according to presidential candidate Jordi Farre.

Barcelona have been without an official president since Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned at the end of October ahead of an expected vote of no confidence.

The presidential election is scheduled to take place on January 24, and Farre is among the candidates, though Victor Font is the heavy favourite to win.

After Messi handed in a transfer request at the start of the season before opting to stay at Camp Nou, Farre outlined his long-term plans for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, highlighting NBA Hall of Famer and Chicago Bulls great Jordan.

"Doubting what Messi has given us is even in bad taste," Farre told Esport3.

"Messi has to be offered a life project. We have to turn Messi into Barca's Jordan.

"We are working to offer Messi a project in the institutional life of the club."

Messi – out of contract at season's end – continues to be linked with Premier League giants Manchester City.

"We have already spoken with Messi's environment," Farre said. "We have a proposal. The offer is not economic.

"Leo has already made a lot of money. It is a love story. I am sure I have a project that will convince Messi."

Messi returned to Barca to work under new head coach Ronald Koeman after failing to engineer a move away, but 2020-21 has been far from a vintage season for the superstar captain.

The 33-year-old has scored three goals in seven LaLiga games this term, while he has six across all competitions.

Messi's minutes per-goal-rate of 195 is only good enough for 28th among players to have featured in at least five LaLiga games this season.

Barca – eighth in LaLiga and nine points off the pace – travel to Atletico Madrid on Saturday following the international break.

Messi has scored 12 goals in 17 LaLiga appearances against Atletico under Diego Simeone, more than any other player, whilst he is also the player to have scored the most LaLiga goals against goalkeeper Jan Oblak (eight goals in 11 games).

Los Angeles Lakers vice-president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said the NBA champions are ready to be "aggressive" in free agency.

Spearheaded by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers claimed their first title since 2010 after topping the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals last month.

The drought-ending success at Walt Disney World Resort sparked celebrations but attention has already turned to 2020-21, with the season due to get underway before Christmas next month.

Dennis Schroder has already been acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Danny Green, and Pelinka insisted the Lakers are not prepared to rest on their laurels in pursuit of sustained success.

"Our approach will be to be aggressive," Pelinka, whose Lakers tied the longest postseason drought in NBA history that a tea mended by winning the title – matching the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers, said on Thursday. "I think there's a handful of teams that probably hope to contend or be in a position to contend.

"We're not going to just sit back and not expect others who are in position to try to better their roster or better their teams. So we have to stay aggressive.

"I think the danger of winning is complacency, and I won't -- we won't allow that to creep in here. We're going to try to improve our team and put head coach [Frank] Vogel and his staff in the best possible position to defend."

It remains to be seen whether JaVale McGee and Avery Bradley will exercise their player options to stay next season, while the future of star Davis is dominating headlines.

Davis – a blockbuster acquisition from the New Orleans Pelicans at the start of 2019-20 – reportedly opted out of the final year of his contract, though the championship winner is tipped to re-sign with the Lakers.

The seven-time All-Star, who has been linked with hometown team the Chicago Bulls, averaged 26.1 points, 9.3 points and 3.2 assists per game last season.

James, meanwhile, is under contract, along with the likes of Alex Caruso, Talen Horton-Tucker and Kyle Kuzma – who is eligible for an extension.

"When the time is right, we'll sit down and speak with them," said Pelinka. "But we're proud of drafting Kuz. We're incredibly proud of his growth as a player. I think he showed in the bubble his ability to play at the wing and the four -- so some three and some four.

"When you lose a defender and a wing player like Danny Green, I think Kyle, we're going to count on him to step in and play some of that wing role as well. But he has the versatility to do it. So he's been a great, great player for us and I would expect that he will continue to grow next season."

The new season is fast approaching and Pelinka added: "That'll just be a balancing act throughout the season. Recognising that there was an extremely short layoff between championship and the start of the season.

"Kind of figuring out what's best for LeBron, what's best for his health, the team's health, what's best for the league and kind of walking that carefully and thoughtfully throughout the year."

James appeared in 67 of the Lakers' 71 regular-season games before adding a fourth NBA ring to his collection and a fourth Finals MVP.

The 35-year-old averaged 25.3 points, 10.2 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game in 2019-20.

Boston Celtics star Gordon Hayward has reportedly opted out of his contract and is set to enter NBA free agency.

Hayward was due to earn $34.2million in 2020-21, but the Celtics forward is now set to become one of the top players on the free agent market, according to ESPN.

The 2017 All-Star could still re-sign with the Celtics on a long-term deal, though the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks have significant cap space to lure Hayward.

Hayward left the Utah Jazz for the Celtics on a four-year max contract via free agency in 2017, but he has endured a difficult time in Boston.

The ninth pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Hayward suffered a gruesome fractured tibia and dislocated ankle in his first game for the Celtics three years ago.

Hayward struggled to recapture his best form the following season, and the 30-year-old sustained a broken bone in his hand in November before suffering a sprained right ankle during Boston's sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers in the opening round of last season's playoffs in Orlando.

He did not return until midway through the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat.

Hayward averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game for the Celtics last season, having averaged 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 2018-19.

Since entering the league, Hayward is averaging 15.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.

The Golden State Warriors have confirmed Klay Thompson is expected to miss the entire 2020-21 NBA season due to a serious injury.

Thompson suffered a torn Achilles in his right leg while participating in a workout on Wednesday, with an MRI scan confirming the severity of the issue.

The five-time NBA All-Star missed the entire 2019-20 campaign after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Game 6 of the prior season's NBA Finals.

Now Golden State are once again facing up to an extended period without the 30-year-old, who averages 19.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists during his eight-year career.

"Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson suffered a torn right Achilles tendon, an MRI confirmed today in Los Angeles,"  a short statement read from the team.

"Thompson suffered the injury yesterday in a workout in Southern California. He is expected to miss the 2020-21 season."

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski had first reported the extent of the issue earlier on Thursday, prior to the team's official announcement.

Former Warrior Rick Barry - who was named Finals MVP when they won the title in 1975 - empathised with Thompson on Twitter, as his Hall of Fame career was also hampered by injury problems.

Barry tweeted: "Having had injuries that kept me away from the game I know how devastating it can be emotionally. If anyone can get through this and come back, I’m sure it's Klay with his great work ethic."

Many current NBA players offered prayers for Thompson on social media following the news, among them LeBron James, Luka Doncic and Paul George.

With Thompson's back-court partner Stephen Curry also missing significant time, Golden State finished with an NBA-worst 15-50 record last term.

The Warriors selected James Wiseman with the second pick in the NBA Draft on Wednesday, the center having averaged 19.7 points and 10.7 rebounds in his three-game career at the University of Memphis, as well as guards Nico Mannion and Justinian Jessup in the second round.

Klay Thompson has suffered a right Achilles tear and will miss the entire 2020-21 NBA season, according to reports. 

The Golden State Warriors confirmed on Wednesday that Thompson had sustained an unspecified leg injury during a workout in California. 

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the five-time All-Star has a torn Achilles that will force him to sit out a second straight season. 

Thompson missed the entire 2019-20 campaign after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Game 6 of the prior season's NBA Finals. 

The 30-year-old guard only took part in his first full Warriors practice since that injury in September, 470 days after leaving the decisive defeat in the series against the Toronto Raptors. 

Stephen Curry also missed significant time last season as Golden State, who were without Kevin Durant too after he left for the Brooklyn Nets, finished with an NBA-worst 15-50 record. 

News of Thompson's injury will be a bitter blow for head coach Steve Kerr as he looks to steer the Warriors back to the postseason, with the new campaign scheduled to begin on December 22. 

Thompson has won three NBA championships and averages 19.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists during his eight-year career, while averages 41.9 per cent from three-point range.

Jamaica’s Nick Richards was the 42nd overall pick in Wednesday’s second round of the NBA Draft.

Richards, a former Kentucky Wildcat, was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans but was then traded to the Charlotte Hornets.

The former Jamaica College athlete went into the draft on the back of his best season ever at Kentucky, averaging 14 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game plus 10 double doubles while shooting at  a conference high .644 field-goal percentage, pundits expected him to go undrafted.

However, Kentucky head coach John Calipari, always had faith in the 6-11 centre.

“What Nick has been able to do with his body, his mind and mastering his skills, it’s been incredible and rewarding to watch as a coach,” Calipari said. “It’s been a pleasure to see him grow into the player and the young man he has become, and he’s done it all because of his hard work and his dedication. It has all paid off.”

Richards led the Wildcats with 66 blocks, including 18 games with multiple rejections. He closed his college career with ranked third all-time in field-goal percentage of .628 with a minimum of 50 attempts. He also ranks 10th all-time with 146 career blocks, and his 528 rebounds rank 46th.

 

Anthony Edwards did not take long to get people talking, naming Kevin Durant the best player in the NBA – rather than LeBron James.

Edwards was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the number one overall pick in Wednesday's NBA Draft, pipping James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball to top spot.

The Georgia guard was swiftly asked which opponent he was most looking forward to playing and had an interesting answer.

"That's easy," Edwards said. "The player I'm most excited to play against is Kevin Durant.

"He's the best player in the league, he's seven feet, unguardable. He can do everything a little guard can do.

"That's easy. That's who I'm ready to play."

Durant missed the entirety of last season after suffering an Achilles injury in the 2019 NBA Finals before leaving the Golden State Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets.

In the meantime, James led the Los Angeles Lakers to the championship and was named Finals MVP, while Giannis Antetokounmpo was league MVP for a second straight year.

Durant was a two-time Finals MVP with the Warriors and also the 2014 NBA MVP while at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Nets could now bring James Harden to Brooklyn to link up with Durant and Kyrie Irving as they aim to become contenders under new coach Steve Nash.

Edwards expects to get the opportunity to test himself against such elite offensive players, believing the T-Wolves need his help most on the defensive end.

"I don't feel too much pressure," Edwards said. "I've got two superstars [Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell] alongside me, so I don't feel too much pressure.

"But I'm going to do what I always do, bring what I bring to the table and impact the games other ways.

"They can already score the ball, so defensively I'm going to impact the game, being the best guard rebounder on the team that I can possibly be.

"I'll be locked in, doing whatever the coach needs me to do, to be honest."

LaMelo Ball is feeling blessed to be playing for Michael Jordan's Charlotte Hornets, despite slipping to third on draft night.

Ball, whose brother Lonzo plays for the New Orleans Pelicans, was projected by some to go as the number one pick.

But the Minnesota Timberwolves instead took Anthony Edwards, leaving Ball to go to the Hornets at three after the Golden State Warriors selected James Wiseman.

Ball, the NBL Rookie of the Year with the Illawarra Hawks, was delighted to have the opportunity to team up with NBA legend and Charlotte owner Jordan, though.

"Man, it's a straight blessing, for real," he said. "I don't really have the words to say. It's just a blessing right now."

And Ball was not concerned by missing out on the chance to go as the top pick.

"Falling down? I never looked at it like that," he said. "The way it happens happens.

"I feel like it's God's plan, so wherever he wanted to put me, that's where he put me. He's going to let me blossom there."

James Wiseman is looking forward to learning again from Steph Curry after the Golden State Warriors selected him with the second overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

After Anthony Edwards went to the Minnesota Timberwolves with the first selection, the Warriors – said to be keeping their options open approaching the draft – took Wiseman.

The former Memphis center – compared to DeAndre Jordan and Hassan Whiteside – joins a Golden State team looking to return to contention after an injury-wrecked 2019-20 season.

The Warriors had reached the Finals in five straight years, winning three titles, before going 15-50 and missing out on an invite to the bubble in Orlando.

Star man Curry is back fit for the new campaign, though, and he is a man Wiseman knows well having attended his SC30 Select Camp in 2018.

"I have a great relationship with Steph," Wiseman, who will wear the number 33 jersey in San Francisco, told reporters. "Obviously, I went to his camp, so he taught me a lot.

"When I was in high school, he taught me a lot about the game of basketball, gave me a lot of information. I actually took a picture with him, so that's my guy."

Wiseman reeled off the names of Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Marquese Chriss and Kevon Looney as he described a "great fit" alongside the team's veterans.

And the new man has no concerns about the pressure that comes with being a Warrior.

"There's no pressure. I've been playing this game a long time," he said. "I've been in winning traditions, especially at Memphis East High School and in college as well.

"I'm built for it and I'm ready to learn, grow my game and adapt."

Golden State were waiting on news of Thompson's latest injury as he headed for a scan, but Wiseman said he was praying for his team-mate.

In the meantime, title-winning coach Steve Kerr was delighted to have Wiseman on board.

"James is incredibly talented," Kerr said. "He's a great young man. We had the chance to watch him work out and have dinner with him a couple of weeks ago and he was so impressive.

"He's just bursting with potential. We're excited to get him. There's a lot of work ahead, but he's excited to be coming here and we're excited to have him, so it should be a great partnership."

Nico Mannion, the Warriors' second-round pick, also attended one of Curry's camps and followed in his father's footsteps by heading to Golden State. Pace Mannion was a second-round Warriors selection in 1983.

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