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Simmons plans to play for Australia at FIBA World Cup

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SYDNEY (AP) — Ben Simmons is set to play for Australia at the FIBA World Cup after confirming in an online video “I’m going to be a Boomer” for upcoming events.

Simmons’ NBA season ended when his Philadelphia 76ers were knocked out of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Kawhi Leonard’s Game 7-ending buzzer-beater for Toronto.

The NBA All-Star told his fans to stay tuned about upcoming events in the video he posted on Twitter but he later confirmed on Weibo, the Chinese social media channel, that he was “looking forward to representing my country Australia” in the World Cup. He’s likely to join the likes of Patty Mills, Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova in Australia’s squad for the World Cup, which starts Aug. 31 in China.

Simmons was criticized in Philadelphia for his lack of impact in the playoffs, but he used the video to thank fans for their support as well as outline his international intentions.

Australia coach Andrej Lemanis said Simmons’ decision to return after skipping the 2016 Olympics reflected the positive vibes within the national set up.

“The players are truly invested in the program and each other. They are always proud to wear the Boomers uniform and keen to represent Australian basketball on the world stage,” Lemanis said. “Ben is an amazing talent and his skill set will add significantly to the team.

“He has a phenomenal basketball IQ, an ability to create for himself and others and an obvious willingness to play in a team orientated environment.”

Australia’s Boomers have never finished higher than fourth in the World Cup or Olympics but are growing in confidence with an increasing number of players in the NBA.

The Boomers are scheduled to play warmups against Canada in Perth, Australia, on Aug. 16 and 17 and against the World Cup champion U.S. team in Melbourne on Aug. 22 and 24.



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Blogtable: Who got snubbed on the All-NBA teams?

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The 2018-19 All-NBA teams were announced Thursday. Who got snubbed? 

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Steve Aschburner:  Seeing as how I voted for the All-NBA teams, I can’t rightly label someone a snub unless they made my ballot but didn’t make the first, second or third team, right? Wouldn’t make sense. There’s only one guy who qualifies then: San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge. He was one of the six forwards I chose — but LeBron James took his spot. Sorry, but I don’t think you qualify as “All-NBA” when you play only 55 games and work for a team that ends up in the lottery. Aldridge is a leader for the playoff perennial Spurs who gets taken for granted by being his same steady self season after season. He also loses style points as a throwback, a master of the 2-pointer rather than 2019’s beloved 3-pointer.

Shaun Powell:  This certainly sounds like a novel concept, but here goes: How about nobody? Klay Thompson didn’t take it well but there are always borderline cases that could fall either way. Should he have been on instead of Kemba Walker because the Warriors win? We should penalize Kemba because of the poor moves by management, then?

 

The Starters chime in on who was the biggest All-NBA snub in 2018-19.

John Schuhmann:  The 15 guys are the same 15 that I had on my ballot (though not necessarily in the same order), so the answer is nobody! Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson and Karl-Anthony Towns all deserved consideration; Parsing out the third-team selections certainly wasn’t easy. The lack of team success definitely hurt Beal and Towns, while Thompson just didn’t have as good a season as he had the previous couple of years. I gave the edge to Kemba Walker, given how much he carried his team (which was better than Beal’s).

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Blogtable: Who’s feeling most pressure for Lakers these days?

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Who’s feeling the most pressure in L.A. right now: Jeanie Buss, Rob Pelinka or Frank Vogel? 

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Steve Aschburner:  Process of elimination says Rob Pelinka. Frank Vogel has no pressure as coach. He’s into his annuity contract now, having already banked more cash than he ever imagined he’d earn in his working lifetime. And he’s a relative babe stepping into a forest of well-known dysfunction, with assistant coach Jason Kidd ready for his close-up as Vogel’s particular Big Bad Wolf. No one’s going to blame him for anything. Jeanie Buss is taking some hits now over pretty obvious mismanagement of personnel, if not business operations, but she owns the company. Pelinka has been outed by Magic Johnson, who remains an icon to Lakers fans, and Kobe Bryant’s reflected glory won’t save him from whatever goes wrong next. He has run out of cover and he’s on the clock.

 

How can the Lakers recover in the wake of all their offseason drama?

Shaun Powell:  Let’s break this down into a matter of who-is and who-should. Ron Pelinka is feeling most of the heat because Magic Johnson threw him on the griddle and Pelinka isn’t well regarded by a segment of the league’s GMs. But Jeanie Buss should be feeling heat because this is her creation — however, as the owner, she can turn invisible and leave Pelinka and Frank Vogel to deal with the fallout.

John Schuhmann: I don’t know if Jeanie Buss is feeling pressure, because the Lakers are still the Lakers making a ton of money, despite the six-year playoff drought. But success and failure in this league starts at the top and it appears that Buss hasn’t been able to recognize the need for a entirely new and more robust basketball operations structure led by an experienced executive that will empower the people around him. Now, because she hasn’t made the proper changes, it’s on Pelinka to upgrade the talent around LeBron James and Vogel to make the most of whatever talent he’s been given come September. Between those two, there’s currently more pressure on Pelinka, given the lack of shooting on the existing roster.

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Blogtable: Would Bucks or Raptors match up better in Finals vs. Warriors?

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Who would match up better against the Warriors in The Finals: Raptors or Bucks?

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Steve Aschburner:  Toronto. And I thought this way even before the Raptors took a 3-2 series lead in the East finals Thursday night. Milwaukee’s defense is stretched thin enough against Toronto, so the Warriors’ firepower would be a huge problem. Especially when Kevin Durant returns, Golden State has defenders with whom it can swarm Giannis Antetokounmpo, even more effectively than the Raptors have or the Celtics (briefly) did. Draymond Green locked onto Giannis for four to seven games? Come on, that also would be a problem for Milwaukee. Frankly, I’m not sure either of East finalists would get the edge at even one spot in a position-by-position breakdown. The only reason I think the Warriors won’t sweep is, they’ll have to deal with some shifting of gears once Durant and maybe DeMarcus Cousins come back. Might cost ‘em a game.

Shaun Powell:  Go with the Bucks because not only do they have an elite player, they shoot 3-pointers and play decent defensively. Both teams match up well if the Warriors aren’t bringing Kevin Durant. Neither, however, matches up well if they are.

John Schuhmann:  Despite their performance in Games 3-5 of the Eastern Conference finals, it’s probably the Bucks. They’re bigger and they have a lot of guards that can defend Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson (to some degree of success, at least). Their defense does allow a lot of 3-point attempts, but they are good at forcing the right guys to shoot those 3-pointers. In fact, the 7.6 3-point attempts per 36 minutes that Curry averaged against the Bucks was his lowest rate against any opponent. Of course, Toronto’s defense has been fantastic throughout the playoffs, Kawhi Leonard has taken things to a new level, and the Raptors would also have a puncher’s chance against the champs.

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