The New Orleans Saints do not know where they will open the NFL regular season, but they are doing all they can to stay focused after Hurricane Ida ravaged the city on Sunday. 

Ida made landfall on the Louisiana coast as a powerful Category 4 storm, 16 years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region. 

The entire city of New Orleans lost power on Sunday but Gayle Benson, who owns the Saints and the NBA's Pelicans, said in a statement Monday that her teams' facilities suffered only superficial damage.

The Saints relocated operations to the Dallas area over the weekend at the invitation of the Cowboys, and head coach Sean Payton said they will remain there at least through Wednesday. 

They are scheduled to host the Green Bay Packers in the regular-season opener on September 12, but Payton told reporters all options are on the table if playing at home is not feasible. 

"Obviously we’ll have a plan B," he said. "And, you know, there are a lot of other things probably from a priority standpoint that are more important for our city.

"But that all being said, we fully anticipate starting the regular season with Green Bay and then the question would be where that game's at."

Speaking to reporters before practice on Monday, Payton noted his team's concern over their homes and belongings left behind. 

"Left behind are obviously apartments, condominiums, homes. Those are all physical things. Nonetheless, they're still home for so many people," Payton said. "I think to some degree that going out and being able to practice today is going to be good for everyone, because from afar, there’s only so much you can do."

The Saints cancelled their final pre-season game, which was to be played at the Superdome against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday.

NFL rules mandate teams give players this weekend off from practice, and Payton indicated he did not expect the Saints to be back at their home facility when work resumes next Monday. 

Benson said the Federal Emergency Management Agency has accepted the Saints' offer to use their facilities and will stage assistance efforts out of the NFL and NBA teams' practice facility in suburban Metairie. 

Benson also said she will donate $1million to a relief fund that will help the region recover from the storm. 

"Our team is safe and focussed on preparing for, and winning, the first regular game against the Green Bay Packers," Benson said. "We look forward to returning to New Orleans to continue those preparations as soon as our government leaders say it is safe to do so.

"Fortunately, the Caesars Superdome received only minor damage and will be prepared to host games as soon as the city's infrastructure will allow."

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said he still wants to win an NBA championship with the franchise amid ongoing speculation over his future.

Lillard's future has dominated headlines following Portland's first-round playoff exit last season, the six-time All-Star continuing to be the subject of trade rumours involving the Philadelphia 76ers.

There has also been talk about the New York Knicks, but despite his frustration after another early postseason elimination in 2020-21, Lillard remains determined to deliver a title to Portland.

"We lose to Denver, they were you know unhealthy," Lillard told Complex News' Pierce Simpson. "I'm frustrated with the loss against Denver, so like we gotta do better.

"I've always said I want to play in Portland, I want to win in Portland, and I still feel that way. So if I'm saying we gotta do better, we gotta give ourselves a real chance, we can't get out the first round as we are, then we gotta get better.

"Not from a standpoint of threatening you all. It was like, if it comes down to me having to move on and do something different like then maybe that's what I have to do.

"But it was like, I haven't made that decision you know what I'm saying? But the fact remains that I would like to win a championship in Portland."

Lillard has been named an All-Star six times in his career and has helped the Blazers reach the playoffs in each of the past eight seasons.

 

It is his clutch shooting that has consistently kept Portland in the mix and, since he entered the league in 2012, only Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry (2,460) and James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets (2,125) have made more three-pointers than Lillard's 2,051.

Portland reached the Western Conference Finals in 2019 but were swept by Curry and the Warriors.

However, this season's exit at the hands of the Denver Nuggets in six games was their fourth first-round elimination in five seasons and led to the Blazers parting ways with head coach Terry Stotts. Chauncey Billups is the man now tasked with leading them to a first NBA Finals since 1992 and a first championship since 1977.

"You get to a position where it's like, 'Do I defend myself or do I just say nothing'. For me, when I'm just hearing stuff that's not the facts, I'm going to say I didn't say that," Lillard told The Athletic as he addressed the trade speculation.

"Some things I've just got to let it be said. I know what the truth is. I know where I stand. It's not my duty to make the public know … it's not my job to make them aware of what that is.

"It definitely has been different. I feel like I've handled it like I've handled everything. I just let it happen. I let people talk and I just stay true to who I am and I stand on that.

"If I say something, I stand on what I said. It is what it is, at this point."

Mike Budenholzer has signed a new multi-year contract extension to remain head coach of 2021 NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks announced the deal on Tuesday, with ESPN reporting Budenholzer has committed to a new three-year extension.

The 52-year-old joined the Bucks in 2018 from the Atlanta Hawks and guided the franchise to their first NBA title in 50 years in his third season in charge.

"Bud is a great coach and a fantastic partner to work with every day as we build a team that consistently competes for championships," Bucks general manager Jon Horst said.

"We’re extremely grateful for the leadership Bud provides and we look forward to building on the success we’ve had over the last three years and congratulate Bud on this well-deserved extension."

Under Budenholzer's guidance, the Bucks have topped the NBA in scoring in each of the past three seasons, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Milwaukee averaged a league-high 120.1 points per game, which is also a franchise-best, in the 2020-21 season.

"The appreciation I have for being a part of the Bucks organization is hard to express," Budenholzer said.

"The players make the success happen on and off the court. We have the best players and to them I am grateful. They’ve grown and we’ve grown together during the last three seasons.

"We’ve had success along the way, finishing with an NBA Championship this season!

"We all can’t wait to get back to work and face the great challenge of competing again for an NBA Championship... Let’s keep getting better and building great teams and doing great work on and off the court."

Budenholzer won the NBA Coach of the Year in his first season at Bucks in 2018-19, before being one of three finalists for the award in 2019-20. He also won the award in 2015 at the Hawks.

Former NBA Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams will miss the start of the new season after undergoing ankle surgery.

The Orlando Magic confirmed the guard had surgery on his left ankle on Monday to have a bone fragment removed and a ligament repaired.

The 29-year-old, who was the 2014 Rookie of the Year, is expected to make a full recovery although no precise timeframe has been provided on his return.

Carter-Williams will miss the start of the new season which starts on October 19 with his return dependent on how he responds to treatment and rehabilitation.

The former pick 11 played 31 games for the Magic last season, averaging 8.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.

Jamahl Mosley has taken over from Steve Clifford as Magic head coach after they finished 14th in the Eastern Conference with a 21-51 record last season.

Milwaukee Bucks superstar and NBA champion Giannis Antetokounmpo purchased a stake in the Milwaukee Brewers, the MLB franchise announced on Friday.

After leading the Bucks to their first NBA title in 50 years, Finals MVP Antetokounmpo is now part of the Brewers' ownership group in Milwaukee.

Antetokounmpo follows in the footsteps of star Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes by buying into the city's baseball team – the 2018 NFL MVP invested in MLB outfit the Kansas City Royals in 2020 before joining the ownership group of MLS side Sporting Kansas City this year.

"The city of Milwaukee means so much to me," two-time NBA MVP Antetokounmpo said.

"I am honoured to be joining the Brewers ownership group to further my commitment and dedication to this great community.

"I take great pride in my city and I'm excited about what we can build together."

Antetokounmpo finished the NBA Finals averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. LeBron James for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015 (35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists) is the only other player to average 35, 10 and five in a Finals series.

After Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon, Antetokounmpo is the third player to win a regular season MVP award, Defensive Player of the Year and Finals MVP across his career.

Antetokounmpo added during Friday's news conference: "Man, this is unbelievable.

"This is a dream come true for a kid from Sepolia, Athens, Greece, born from immigrant parents. I could have never imagined I would be in this position.''

Antetokounmpo is the first new individual investor added to the Brewers ownership group since chairman Mark Attanasio purchased controlling interest in 2005.

"We are honoured to have Giannis join our team of Milwaukee Brewers investors," Attanasio said. "Giannis is a great athlete, a world champion, and a true local hero with international renown."

The Brewers – NL Central champions in 2011 and 2018 – are eyeing their first National League pennant and World Series title.

Kevin Durant and Draymond Green blamed Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and the franchise's management for mishandling the pair's infamous on-court spat, which led to the former leaving the team.

Durant and Green were involved in a heated verbal exchange against the Los Angeles Clippers in November 2018, with the argument reportedly continuing in the locker room post-game.

Green was suspended for one game by the Warriors as a result.

Durant eventually departed the Warriors via free agency at the end of the season, joining the Brooklyn Nets.

Warriors team-mates from 2016 to 2019 – winning two NBA championships, Durant and Green spoke about the incident.

"It wasn't the argument," Durant said on Bleacher Report show 'Chips' when asked how much the argument contributed in his decision to leave Golden State.

"It was the way that everybody -- Steve Kerr -- acted like it didn't happen. [General manager] Bob Myers tried to just discipline you [Green] and think that would put the mask over everything."

Green recalled: "'Y'all are about to f*** this up. I said, 'The only person that can make this right is me and K [Durant]. And there is nothing that y'all can do, and y'all are going to f*** this up.' And in my opinion, they f***** it up."

"I think so too," responded Durant, who averaged 26.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists with the Warriors in 2018-19 before suffering an Achilles injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Durant added: "I remember watching 'The Last Dance,' and when Scottie [Pippen] didn't go into the game, the whole team in the locker room said, 'Scottie, that was f***** up that you did that.'

"We needed that. We just needed to throw all of that s*** on the table and say, 'Yo Dray, K, that was f***** up that we even had to go through that.'

"Let's just wipe our hands with that and go finish the task. ... I didn't think we did that. We just tried to dance around it. I just didn't like, just the vibe between all of that, it just made s*** weird to me."

Four-time NBA All-Star Kemba Walker says he is driven to prove he is still among the league's top echelon following his trade to the New York Knicks.

The 31-year-old point guard joined the Knicks on a two-year deal after two seasons with the Boston Celtics, following his career-best year at the Charlotte Hornets in 2018-19.

Walker was an All-Star for the four seasons from 2017 to 2020, but last season battled knee injuries hampering his form and ability to establish continuity.

He only played 43 games, averaging 19.3 points [his lowest return since 2014-15], 4.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game.

New York-born Walker fronted the media for the first time since his trade to the Knicks and insisted he is highly motivated to prove his quality.

"It means everything," Walker said. "It's driving everything. Because I know what kind of player I am.

"I know what level I want to be at. It's added motivation."

Walker said it was the "perfect time" to return to his native New York and he was encouraged by the Knicks' belief in him.

The Knicks made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2013, bowing out 4-1 in the first round to the Atlanta Hawks.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to be able to come home," Walker said.

"As far as added pressure, I don't think so. As long as I'm in a great environment around great people I'll be fine."

Veteran Patrick Beverley has been traded for the second time in two days with the Memphis Grizzlies sending the point guard to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The 33-year-old played a key part in the Los Angeles Clippers' 2021 playoffs campaign, marking Devin Booker closely in their Western Conference finals against the Phoenix Suns.

Beverley was also ejected from Game 6 of the series following a forceful push on Chris Paul during a stoppage.

The Grizzlies had acquired Beverley from the Clippers in a trade that sent Eric Bledsoe to Los Angeles on Sunday but Memphis made another move on Tuesday.

Beverley has been traded to the Timberwolves in exchange for guard Jarrett Culver and forward Juancho Hernangomez.

Chicago-born Beverley had been with the Clippers since 2017 but lost his starting spot in the 2021 playoffs to Reggie Jackson.

Beverley averaged 7.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in the 2020-21 NBA season but was more known for his defensive hustle.

Joel Embiid will sign a four-year, $196million supermax extension with the Philadelphia 76ers following his near-MVP efforts in 2020-21.

Widespread reports detailed the deal on Tuesday, which rewards an outstanding season for the All-Star center.

Embiid became eligible for the extension after finishing second in the MVP voting and making the All-NBA Second Team.

But for injury, the big man might have scooped the top award, for which he was the favourite until a knee problem in March.

The 76ers were only 10-11 without Embiid, but their 39-12 record with their outstanding star on the floor was enough to finish first in the Eastern Conference.

Embiid's 28.5 points per game were a career high and ranked fourth in the NBA despite the ongoing knee issue – a torn meniscus, which he played with into the postseason – limiting the former third overall pick to 31.1 minutes.

Per 75 possessions, his 32.9 points led the league, boosted by improvement in field-goal percentage (51.3), three-point percentage (37.7) and accuracy from the foul line (85.9 per cent).

Embiid's new deal, which runs through the 2026-27 season, reportedly includes a player option for the final year, although the Sixers do not have the same protection in case of further injuries.

Embiid is yet to play more than 64 games in a regular season in the NBA, with the start to his career delayed by two years due to foot surgery.

Marcus Smart and the Boston Celtics have agreed to a maximum-value four-year contract extension. 

Smart will make $77million in the deal, which begins with the 2022-23 NBA season, according to reports by ESPN and The Athletic. 

Smart posted a video of highlights from his Celtics career on his Instagram page Monday with the comment "Let's go 4 more..."

The 27-year-old has spent his entire seven-year NBA career with the Celtics after they selected him with the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft. 

He averaged a career-best 13.1 points and 5.7 assists per game last season.

Smart is set to make $14.3m next season, the last in his existing deal. 

 

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers did not mount much of a title defence last season, but he is already working with one of their high-profile reinforcements as they prepare to try to regain the crown in 2021-22.

James and the Lakers were eliminated in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs by the Phoenix Suns having defeated the Golden State Warriors in the play-in tournament.

They rarely looked a threat to defend the Larry O'Brien Trophy, with an injury-hindered season for James not aiding their cause, but the Lakers responded to last season's disappointment by making a number of major additions.

Westbrook's acquisition via a five-team trade was the one that grabbed the headlines, the former MVP arriving after a hugely productive season with the Washington Wizards.

He finished tied with MVP Nikola Jokic for the league lead with 45.5 combined points, assists and rebounds per game.

Westbrook and James are already focused on developing their connection, with LeBron sharing photos of the two working out together on Instagram.

James is entering his 19th season in the NBA and, in addition to a fifth title, will have his sights set on surpassing 36,000 career points and moving closer to Karl Malone, who occupies second on the all-time list.

LeBron has 35,367 to his name, 1,561 shy of two-time MVP Malone on 36,928. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar leads the standings with 38,387.

Orlando Magic rookie Jalen Suggs will miss the rest of the NBA Summer League with a thumb injury.

The fifth overall pick in last month's draft, Suggs hurt his left thumb when he fell on a drive to the basket in Thursday's game against the Boston Celtics. 

The Magic said an MRI exam Friday confirmed the 20-year-old guard had sprained his left thumb. 

Suggs gained national acclaim as he led Gonzaga to the championship game of the NCAA Tournament in April, banking in a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat UCLA in the semi-finals. 

He impressed immediately in his first game in a Magic uniform, scoring 24 points and adding nine rebounds in just 28 minutes in his summer league debut against the Golden State Warriors on Monday. 

Suggs averaged 15.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in three games in Las Vegas and will miss Orlando's final contest against the Houston Rockets on Saturday. 

Brooklyn Nets forward Blake Griffin says there is a sense of "unfinished business" within the roster ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season.

The star-studded Nets bowed out of the NBA playoffs to eventual champions, the Milwaukee Bucks, in the Eastern Conference semi-finals 4-3.

Brooklyn were not helped by injuries to two, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, of their 'Big Three' down the stretch.

The Nets had been earmarked as title favourites following the acquisition of Harden from the Houston Rockets in January, with six-time NBA All-Star Griffin joining for the Detroit Pistons in March, and the latter said there was unfinished business after falling short.

"We obviously didn’t accomplish what we wanted," Griffin said during a video news conference. "You can say injuries, but every team had injuries.

"We feel like there’s definitely unfinished business. There’s something bigger that we want to achieve, and I still want to be a part of that."

Griffin, who became the first player in free agency to re-sign earlier this week, was confident the Nets can claim the NBA championship.

“Yeah, I think so. I think so," he said. "Obviously there’s a lot of work to do, a lot of work to be done.

"Can’t take anything for granted. But I like our team. I like the guys we have, I like our coaching staff, I like everything we’ve put together. I believe in us."

Star forward Kevin Durant re-committed to the Nets earlier this week on a bumper four-year extension believed to be worth $198million.

Former NBA Rookie of the Year Griffin, who is now 32, added that Durant's extension helped him decide to ink a minimum one-year deal.

"I mean, obviously, it’s comforting to know that the guy of that caliber is locked in," Griffin said. "KD’s kind of like that piece that brought everything together."

Brooklyn have also added guard Patty Mills from the San Antonio Spurs, fresh from leading Australia to a breakthrough bronze medal at Tokyo 2020.

"Patty adds just dynamic shooting," Griffin said. "That’s always a need for us, but also just a veteran point guard who playing against him, it seems like he’s always like that guy that comes up with a big play, - defense, offense, whatever - hits a big shot.

"He’s also a guy that can facilitate and you know, get in the teeth of defense makes the right decisions. Just a really good basketball player."

Stephen Curry's Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr says the Olympics is the last thing on the two-time NBA MVP's list to achieve after the player hinted he has an "itch" to play again for Team USA.

Kerr helped Team USA to the gold medal at Tokyo 2020 as the side's assistant coach under Gregg Popovich earlier this month, while Curry sat out the tournament.

The 33-year-old Warriors point guard cited the short break between NBA seasons for opting out of Tokyo 2020.

Curry was part of gold medal-winning US sides at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and 2014 FIBA World Cup but has never participated at an Olympics.

"I don't think I even need to advise Steph on any of that because he's been through the World Cup experience at least once, I think twice, if I'm not mistaken," Kerr told The Athletic.

"He's competed at the highest level internationally. The Olympics is probably the only thing left on his list of basketball accomplishments.

"He's achieved everything else. I think that would be great if he was interested in '24. I think that'd be a great thing for him to pursue if he wanted to do it."

Curry will be 36 years-old by the time the 2024 Olympics in Paris are held.

The seven-time All Star returned to top form in the 2020-21 NBA season as the Warriors stormed into the play-in tournament.

Curry averaged 32.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game in the 2020-21 season.

The three-time NBA champion told reporters last month: "No regrets at all [in not competing at Tokyo 2020], but there's always that itch to play and play on the biggest stage, like the Olympics. But it just wasn't the right thing for me and the right time."

Kawhi Leonard has committed his future to the Los Angeles Clippers by agreeing a four-year contract that includes a player option, according to reports.

Leonard had declined a $36million option to enter free agency after the NBA postseason, though it was expected he would opt to return to the Clippers.

The five-time NBA All-Star suffered a serious knee injury during the playoffs, going down during the Western Conference finals. Without him, Los Angeles went on to lose the series 4-2 to the Phoenix Suns.

Having undergone surgery to repair a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, it is unclear exactly when Leonard will be ready to get back on the court. It has been reported he will miss an extended amount of the 2021-22 season as he works his way back to full fitness.

However, the Clippers at least know they have him locked up for the long term. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Twitter that the deal is worth $176.3m with an option for the fourth and final year.

Leonard has averaged 26.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists since joining the Clippers in 2019, arriving at the franchise after an impressive title-winning campaign with the Toronto Raptors.

The 30-year-old opted to join forces with Paul George at the Clippers, with their two seasons together seeing the team finish second and then fourth in the West.

They went 36-16 when Leonard was active in the 2020-21 regular season, outscoring their opponents by 9.0 points per outing. In the 20 games he missed, however, their record was 11-9 and they were outscored by 1.1 points on average.

In the playoffs, L.A. have lost in the Conference semi-finals and Conference finals respectively in the past two seasons.

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