Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons will not play for Australia at this year's FIBA World Cup, though he will feature in exhibition games against the United States.

After initially making himself available for August's World Cup in China, Simmons announced on Tuesday that he will skip the tournament and instead focus on the upcoming NBA season with the 76ers.

While he is set to sit out the World Cup, Simmons will travel to Australia for a pair of games against Canada in Perth on August 16 and 17 before facing Team USA in Melbourne on August 22 and 24.

"I wanted to let everyone know that after consulting with my representation, I've made the difficult decision to forego playing in the World Cup in China this summer," Simmons – who has signed a new five-year contract with the 76ers – said in a statement via Twitter.

"I will still be heading back home to Australia to host my camps as well as train and play with the Boomers in the upcoming exhibition games.

"I'm really excited about the talent we have on the Boomers squad, especially moving close to 2020 where I will be honoured and humbled to represent my country on the world's biggest sporting stage at the Olympics in Tokyo.

"Ultimately, we decided it was best that I use the time in September to return to Philadelphia to acquaint myself with my new team-mates and prepare for the upcoming NBA season."

The 76ers selected Simmons with the first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and he has played a large role in the team's resurgence as an oversized, do-it-all playmaker.

Philadelphia put together one of the most talented starting line-ups in basketball last season, featuring Simmons, Joel Embiid, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris as they finished third in the Eastern Conference before falling to the Toronto Raptors in the second round.

The 76ers lost Butler and Redick this offseason, but acquired Josh Richardson and Al Horford, giving them tremendous defensive potential.

Ben Simmons has officially agreed to a new long-term deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, the team announced on Tuesday.

The Sixers confirmed a five-year extension, starting in 2020, but did not reveal the terms of the contract - reported to be a max deal worth $170million.

Simmons, who turns 23 on Saturday, was in the last year of his rookie contract.

"Ben Simmons is an important piece of our core and he is one of the NBA's most dynamic and talented young players," general manager Elton Brand said.

"It was a priority for our organisation that we finalise a contract extension with Ben this summer. He was Rookie of the Year in his first season, an All-Star in his second and we expect him to continue grow and succeed for seasons to come.

"Ben positively impacts the game in so many ways and we look forward to continuing our championship pursuits with him as one of our leaders."

The Australian was drafted by Philadelphia with the number one overall pick in 2016 but missed his entire rookie season due to a foot injury.

Simmons finished last season averaging 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game and helped lead the Sixers to the second round of the playoffs, where they were agonisingly beaten by eventual champions the Toronto Raptors.

Ben Simmons has reportedly agreed to a max deal with the Philadelphia 76ers that will pay him $170million over five years.

Agent Rich Paul is said to have confirmed the agreement to The Athletic and ESPN on Monday. 

Simmons, 22, was in the last year of his rookie contract and was slated to make $8.1m in the 2019-20 season.

It will mark his third year in the league after he missed his entire rookie campaign due to a foot injury.

Simmons was drafted first overall by Philadelphia in 2016 and has already become a star, despite the delayed start to his professional career. He won Rookie of the Year in 2017-18 and earned All-Star honours this past season.

He finished last year averaging 16.9 points and 7.9 assists per game and helped Philadelphia to the second round of the playoffs, where they were eliminated by the Toronto Raptors in seven games.

James Ennis is confident in the Philadelphia 76ers heading into the 2019-20 NBA season.

The 29-year-old wing was a free agent and re-signed with Philadelphia on a two-year deal reportedly worth $4.1million.

Ennis said he had better offers elsewhere but chose to return because he wanted a chance to win a championship.

"It's a good team, and a good chance of winning," Ennis told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"The East is going to be wide open. We had a good chance last year. Kawhi [Leonard] is gone. He went to the [Los Angeles Clippers in the] West. So, we are going to walk to the Finals in the East."

The 76ers finished the season with a 51-31 record and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, where they fell to Leonard's Raptors.

Leonard pushed Toronto past Philadelphia when he hit a crazy bouncing buzzer-beater in the fourth quarter of Game 7. The Raptors went on to win their first championship in franchise history.

The 76ers lost wing Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat, however, they brought back Tobias Harris on a five-year, $180m contract. They also signed forward Al Horford to a four-year deal.

"[Horford] has built his reputation around hard work and a tradition of winning, which are the same qualities that have formed the foundation of the 76ers," general manager Elton Brand said in a statement.

"Al's playmaking, elite defensive talents and veteran leadership confirm why he is a crucial addition to our roster.

"We have gained a championship-level team-mate that will not only complement our current makeup but will help grow our young core as we strive for the highest level of success."

The Milwaukee Bucks led the East and registered an NBA-best 60-22 record in 2018-19. They fell to the Raptors in the conference finals.

Ennis was sent from the Houston Rockets to the 76ers before the trade deadline. He averaged 5.3 points and 3.6 rebounds while shooting 30.6 per cent from three-point range in 18 regular-season games with Philadelphia.

Al Horford has signed for the Philadelphia 76ers, who also officially confirmed Tobias Harris will be remaining with the franchise.

Veteran center Horford has reportedly inked a four-year deal worth $109million after declining his $30.1m player option with the Boston Celtics last month.

Horford was originally expected to return to the team on a three-year deal before negotiations fell apart.

"We're excited to welcome one of the NBA's best frontcourt players in Al Horford to Philadelphia," Sixers general manager Elton Brand said in a statement. 

"He has built his reputation around hard work and a tradition of winning, which are the same qualities that have formed the foundation of the 76ers.

"Al's playmaking, elite defensive talents and veteran leadership confirm why he is a crucial addition to our roster. 

"We have gained a championship-level team-mate that will not only complement our current make-up but will help grow our young core as we strive for the highest level of success."

In further good news for the 76ers, Harris is staying in Philadelphia. His agent and father, Torrel, told The Athletic he has signed a five-year, $180m contract.

Philadelphia acquired Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers at the trade deadline earlier this year. He averaged 18.2 points and 7.9 rebounds in 27 regular-season games with the 76ers.

Harris has bounced around the NBA and has played for five teams in eight seasons, averaging 15.4 points per game while shooting 36.4 per cent from three-point range in 546 career appearances.

"Signing Tobias and solidifying him as a foundational piece of our core for years to come was a top priority for our organisation this summer," Brand said. 

"His impact in our city extends far beyond his elite talents on the floor. He has ingrained himself in the community and established himself as a leader and driver of positive change. 

"Tobias is a fierce competitor with a tireless work ethic and embodies all of the qualities of a franchise cornerstone. I couldn't be happier to welcome Tobias and his entire family back to the 76ers and we all look forward to continuing our quest to win a championship for this city and our amazing fans.”

Who would be the lucky team to nab Duke's Zion Williamson? It was an eventful week in the United States as the question many people had been asking for months was just about answered.

This was almost more pressing than anything going on in the NBA playoffs despite Kawhi Leonard's dramatics in the final moments of the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

The team who won the NBA Draft lottery was a surprise and made the story even more compelling.

All that and more this week in US Sports.

 

1. The Pelicans may be losing one star but adding another

The prize of the lottery was Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans were the lucky team to earn the right to draft him, getting the top pick in the upcoming draft.

The Memphis Grizzlies will pick second and the New York Knicks – who Williamson reportedly wanted to go to – will pick third.

This creates an interesting scenario as Pelicans star Anthony Davis still does not want to re-sign with the team, but New Orleans' new executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin is not giving up on bringing him back.

The next couple of months in the NBA will be a lot of fun and that entertainment once again has nothing to do with what is going on on the floor.

2. Lakers finally get their man

The Lakers have a new coach and his name is Frank Vogel.

The former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic coach was hired by the Lakers this week after Luke Walton agreed to mutually part ways last month.

But, even with the signing of a new coach, there is still drama in Los Angeles as the Lakers hired Jason Kidd to be a prominent assistant on Vogel's staff.

It has already led to speculation as to just how long Vogel will be at the helm.

 

3. 76ers stick with the status quo

There will be no major shakeup on the Philadelphia 76ers' coaching staff after they fell in seven games to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

It was reported that Brett Brown would likely be fired if Philadelphia did not win Game 7 on Sunday, but on Monday, the 76ers announced they were bringing Brown back.

The coach has amassed a 178-314 record in six years with the team, but has also been at the helm for Philadelphia's last two playoff runs in which they won a combined 103 games over the past two seasons.

Now the question for Philadelphia becomes is who they can bring back? Do Tobias Harris or Jimmy Butler re-sign with the team? That remains to be seen.

4. Yankees health gets a boost, takes another hit

The New York Yankees finally got some reinforcements this week as Aaron Hicks made his return to the lineup, but that did not come without a bit of bad news as well.

Miguel Andujar is all but officially done for the season as he has elected to undergo surgery on the torn labrum in his right shoulder.

So the Yankees got some help but also permanently lost a player for the season.

 

5. Edwin Jackson sets MLB record

This is one of the weirder records in MLB history, but it is still a pretty cool one.

The Oakland Athletics traded starting pitcher Edwin Jackson to the Blue Jays this week and when Jackson made his start with Toronto, he became the first pitcher in history to pitch for 14 different organisations.

Jackson passed Octavio Dotel for the MLB record and, at 35 years old, he still has some time to add to that number.

Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons will feature for Australia at the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup.

The 76ers' NBA season came to an end with a thrilling loss to the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals on Sunday.

In a video posted on Weibo, Simmons announced he would be representing the Boomers in China.

"I'm happy to say I'm looking forward to representing my country Australia in the upcoming @FIBA World Cup in China," he wrote on the post.

Australia are scheduled to face the United States in August before the World Cup begins.

They will meet Canada, Senegal and Lithuania in Group H at the World Cup, with their first game on September 1.

Philadelphia 76ers duo Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris discussed their futures with the NBA team as they approach free agency.

Butler and Harris are expected to be unrestricted free agents this offseason.

Both discussed their upcoming decisions when they met with reporters on Monday, one day after the 76ers fell to the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semi-final series.

"Hopefully I'll get a max contract anywhere I choose to go," Butler told reporters, via NBC Sports Philadelphia.

"You always want to be able to win, I think that's key for sure. You're looking at coaches, you're looking at the city. There's a lot that goes into it."

The 76ers acquired Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves in mid-November in exchange for a package centred around Dario Saric and Robert Covington.

Butler averaged 18.2 points in 55 regular-season appearances for Philadelphia and increased that number to 19.4 points per game in the playoffs.

"For me, as long as I got my people with me, they're happy, they're smiling and we're waking up knowing we're getting to work in an environment where we're having fun ... but I'm a long way away from that," Butler said. "I'm not too focused on that right now."

Philadelphia traded for Harris this season, as well, as they added him in a deadline deal with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The 26-year-old has bounced around the NBA and has played for five teams in eight seasons, averaging 15.4 points while shooting 36.4 per cent from three-point range in 546 career games.

"There's only so many players that are super stable in the NBA, let's just be upfront with that," Harris said about his approach to free agency. "For me honestly, style of play is a huge thing. Culture. A chance to be able to win. Just being in the playoffs here and getting that feeling and seeing how bad that loss [to the Raptors] felt."

Harris has been linked to the Brooklyn Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies.

The Philadelphia 76ers have some important decisions to make this offseason.

Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard ended Philadelphia's NBA season with a Game 7 buzzer-beater in Sunday's Eastern Conference semi-final decider.

Now, the 76ers must figure out what is best for their future.

"The process" is not quite complete, so here are three questions Philadelphia need to answer during the offseason:

 

What's the best way to solidify the backcourt?

The 76ers need to address their lack of guard depth. Philadelphia once had a collection of prospects looking to establish a role in the rotation. But now, Ben Simmons and Zhaire Smith are the only guards on the books for 2019-20.

Prolific sharpshooter JJ Redick is an unrestricted free agent. While Philadelphia could try to retain his services, they need ball-handlers.

The 76ers got virtually nothing from reserve guards like T.J. McConnell, Jonathan Simmons and 2018 first-round pick Smith during the postseason. Jimmy Butler often operated as the team's backup point guard in the second unit for Philadelphia, but he and Tobias Harris could move on in the coming months.

Without role players they can trust to create for themselves and others, the 76ers could experience a significant decline. Especially if they cannot match this year's star power.

 

Who should get offered a max deal?

Philadelphia traded notable pieces to land top talents Butler and Harris. Among these were Defensive Player of the Year candidate Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz and Landry Shamet.

The 76ers' win-now attitude allowed them to feature one of the most dangerous starting line-ups in the NBA this season. But injuries, specifically to Joel Embiid (knee), limited their repetitions together in the regular season.

Now both Butler and Harris could enter free agency this offseason. Butler has a player option for the 2019-20 season while Harris is an unrestricted free agent. Should Philadelphia offer one or both of these players a max deal?

Butler's grittiness fit the city's culture and provided the young 76ers with a cold-blooded finisher at the end of games. Harris flourished at times, but often waned in the postseason.

If Philadelphia do not fork out the big bucks, both could become one-year rentals, and that could set the 76ers back a few years. The risk was necessary to become a contender, but it could backfire in a big way.

 

Can Simmons and Embiid co-exist?

I know what you are thinking. How could having two All-Stars under the age of 26 be a problem?

Philadelphia's years of poor performance helped them land two generational talents in Simmons and Embiid. But they might have to part ways with one for their own good.

Simmons is a 6-10 point guard with effortless playmaking ability, and Embiid is arguably one of the most talented and versatile big men of all time. However, a few problems need to be addressed.

Simmons' lack of a jump shot and willingness to take over games has come into question as of late. Embiid can go toe-to-toe with any player, but he has missed 88 games through three NBA seasons.

Should the 76ers put money into retaining Butler and Harris, they could dig themselves into a deep hole. Simmons and Embiid have valuable skill sets, but the combination of their playing styles provides little floor spacing at the moment.

Now could be the time to jump and fetch a high price on the open market as they approach their primes.

The city of Philadelphia is restless as it awaits an NBA championship, and one mistake could derail the 76ers progress toward that goal.

Brett Brown will return as head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers next NBA season, according to managing partner Josh Harris.

Brown's future was reportedly in doubt following the 76ers' heartbreaking Eastern Conference semi-final loss to the Toronto Raptors, who won Game 7 thanks to Kawhi Leonard's buzzer-beater on Sunday.

However, Harris told ESPN on Monday that Brown will be coaching the 76ers in 2019-20 following a meeting, which included general manager Elton Brand.

Brown's return is good news for, among others, 76ers All-Star Joel Embiid – who was furious about the rumours surrounding his coach.

"I heard about all these rumours and stuff and I just thought it was bull****," Embiid said during exit interviews on Monday. "He's done a fantastic job. He's been there through everything and this year I think he grew even more as a coach. He learned, we all learned."

"At the end of the day, it comes down to the players. I don't think he should have anything to worry about," Embiid continued. "He's an amazing coach, a better person, and obviously, I've got a lot of love for him. If there was someone to blame, put it all on me."

Brown assumed the 76ers top post in 2013, and after several lean years with an undermanned squad that gave rise to the phrase, "Trust the process," Brown led the 76ers to 52 wins in 2017-18 and 51 this season.

The 58-year-old also oversaw an Eastern Conference semi-final defeat against rivals the Boston Celtics last season.

Joel Embiid labelled rumours over head coach Brett Brown's future as "bull****" following the Philadelphia 76ers' elimination from the NBA playoffs.

The 76ers suffered a gut-wrenching 92-90 Game 7 loss to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semi-finals on Sunday.

There have been reports that Brown would no longer be in Philadelphia if the 76ers lost the Eastern Conference semi-finals, but All-Star Embiid passionately defended the 58-year-old on Monday — less than 24 hours after Kawhi Leonard hit a buzz-beater to end the team's season.

"I was off social media. ... I heard about all those rumours and stuff," Embiid told the media. "and I just thought it was bull****.

"He's done a fantastic job. He's been there through everything."

The New York Times noted that while there is uncertainty regarding free agents like Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick, for Brown to remain with the 76ers he would need "an NBA Finals berth to keep his job."

The report added Brown "has little chance of surviving a second-round exit."

Butler, who is facing pending free agency, had worked under Brown for just six months following his arrival from the Minnesota Timberwolves, but said the sixth-year head coach has "a huge heart."

"He's a great dude and he works incredibly hard, so you gotta respect that about him." Butler said. "He's always of how he can make everybody great, which is hard to do whenever you have a roster like we have/had. I think he's going to be here for a long time."

Philadelphia are 178-315 since Brown took over the 76ers in 2013-14.

After four consecutive seasons of missing the playoffs, Brown led the 76ers to the conference semi-finals the past two seasons following last year's defeat to the Boston Celtics.

Nick Nurse believes the Toronto Raptors will have to improve if they are to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Raptors went seven games with the Philadelphia 76ers but ended on a high, winning 92-90 on Sunday thanks to Kawhi Leonard's landmark buzzer-beater.

That victory booked a date with the Bucks, the top seed in the NBA, boasting MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo and able to rest up since knocking out the Boston Celtics in five games.

Coach Nurse acknowledged the scale of Toronto's task, believing they must alter their game, recover quickly and perform better in order to prevail.

"It's a totally different style than we've just been through in our last two series," Nurse told a news conference.

"These were set-play teams, pretty methodical on offense, going to come down and look at things, run stuff for certain guys.

"It's not to say Milwaukee doesn't do that, too, but they'd much rather spread the floor, give it to a guy to put their head down and take it to the rim, then put it in the rim.

"If you send help, they're going to fire it out and shoot a ton of threes.

"It's a little different style that we're going to see and we're going to have to adjust to that really quickly. We have to forget about how happy we are pretty quickly, because it's a hungry team, a very deep team, a very good team.

"We're going to have to continue to grow and we're going to have to play better."

The Raptors head to Milwaukee for Game 1 on Wednesday.

Kawhi Leonard said he planned to "leave it all out on the floor" for the Toronto Raptors in Game 7, desperate to ensure this was not the end of his season.

Raptors star Leonard produced a stunning buzzer-beater in the second-round series decider against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, stealing a sensational 92-90 win after the ball bounced four times on the rim before dropping.

Leonard ended on 41 points with 16-of-39 from the field, insisting afterwards that missed shots were not his concern as he looked to do everything to inspire his team.

"I knew it was Game 7 and I didn't want to leave any shots in my mind," Leonard told a news conference. "I just wanted to go out and leave it all on the floor.

"This could have been my last game for the season - I would have had to wait four months, five months to put another shot up in a game.

"I was going to leave it all out on the floor tonight, not worried about makes or misses, just trying to will us to a win and get to my spots."

It was the first Game 7 buzzer-beater in NBA history and Leonard was delighted to be able to "feel that moment".

"It was great. That's something I've never experienced before, Game 7, game-winning shot," he said. "It was a blessing to be able to get to that point, make that shot and feel that moment. It's something I can look back on in my career.

"Probably the last time you've seen me scream was when we won [the 2014 title with the San Antonio Spurs].

"Whenever there is a moment I haven't really experienced, I try to show some emotion and let it just come out. Tonight was one of those nights, where I'd never been in that situation before.

"It's the first time somebody hit a game-winner in Game 7, so I just showed emotion and it was a great feeling. I'm just happy that we can move onto the next round."

The Raptors begin their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

Joel Embiid struggled to explain his playoff heartbreak after the Philadelphia 76ers were beaten by Kawhi Leonard's sensational Game 7 buzzer-beater.

The Sixers took Leonard and the Toronto Raptors the distance in their Eastern Conference semi-final series but fell to a 92-90 defeat in the decider on the road, with the crucial last-second shot bouncing four times on the rim before dropping in.

Embiid appeared to be crying after the game and he found it difficult to later expand on his emotions.

"Game 7, losing a game that way, last shot, after a hard-fought game, I felt like we had a chance," he told a news conference.

"A lot of things go through your mind. It sucks. I can't explain it, it just sucks."

He added on Raptors star Leonard: "He's a great player, obviously. He did his thing. You've got to give him credit. He made some tough shots the whole series. They leaned on him heavily."

Jimmy Butler, Embiid's team-mate, similarly could only praise Leonard for his role in an incredible series.

"He hit a tough one. You tip your hat to that," he said. "He's an incredible player - you know it, we all know it. There isn't too much more you can say about it."

Butler is now a free agent but was not interested in igniting speculation so soon after a painful loss.

He said: "I'm not worried about that right now right after losing. I don't want to talk about anything else except for basketball."

Kawhi Leonard scored one of the most dramatic buzzer-beaters in NBA history to cap an incredible performance and lead the Toronto Raptors to a 92-90 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 on Sunday.

With the score tied at 90, the Raptors inbounded the ball with four seconds left. Leonard, who scored a game-high 41 points, took the ball, dribbled into the corner and nailed the game-winning two-pointer over Joel Embiid.

The ball bounced four times on the rim before dropping through, as Toronto fans erupted.

The Raptors will now face the Bucks in Milwaukee in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday.

Here are three takeaways from the Raptors' huge win:

Is there any NBA player more important to his team than Leonard?

Think of the top players in the NBA, from Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant to Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Embiid.

Are any of them more valuable to their team than Leonard is to the Raptors?

While Leonard can keep pace with any of the aforementioned players on the offensive end (he is averaging 31.8 points in the playoffs), he creates so many problems for Raptors' opponents on defense. Twice in the first half, Leonard stole the ball and took it down the court to finish with a dunk. 

Leonard stepped up time and time again when Toronto needed him most. Down the stretch, he scored 13 of the Raptors' last 15 points in the final six minutes, including a long jumper that broke an 85-85 tie.

And then he hit the game-winner. Leonard did not have a great shooting performance (16 of 39 from the field) but he came up big when it counted.

No one wants to talk about the obvious after such a thrilling finish, but Leonard, of course, is eligible for free agency in the offseason. As he showed on Sunday, Toronto need him back.

 

Serge Ibaka played critical role off the bench

As Leonard carried the Raptors during Game 7, everyone watching wondered: Would someone, anyone else, step up for Toronto?

Serge Ibaka answered the call. The 29-year-old center scored 17 points off the bench, and knocked down three of his five three-point attempts.

Ibaka came into the game averaging only 8.3 points in the playoffs. He could not have picked a better time to come alive off the bench. If the Raptors hope to beat the Bucks and advance to the NBA Finals, they will need more contributions from everyone on the roster not named Kawhi. The other four starters hit 12 of 35 shots and scored a combined 30 points against the 76ers. That cannot continue.

The NBA regular season really does matter

How many times during the regular season do we hear fans utter the cliché: "The regular season doesn't matter – our team will be totally ready when the playoffs begin."

But regular-season wins can create a huge advantage in the postseason. The Raptors, who finished second in the Eastern Conference, had the home-court advantage over the 76ers, who finished third. And that advantage showed in Game 7. The Toronto fans in Scotiabank Arena were vocal and enthusiastic most of the game. They went silent when the 76ers sucked the life out of the building with a 16-0 second-half run, but the fans came alive down the stretch.

The 76ers won two of three games against Toronto in Philadelphia, both by healthy margins. Just imagine if Game 7 had been in Philly. Would the outcome have been different? It is not a stretch to think playing at home might have been worth at least three points for Philadelphia.

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