James Harden to Brooklyn Nets, Ben Simmons stays, mistake, ecstatic

Ben Simmons is reportedly “pretty ecstatic” about being left alone as NBA superstar James Harden left the Houston Rockets for the Brooklyn Nets.

The move sees the eight-time All-Star joining top dogs Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in New York in a team now overflowing with alpha personalities who like the ball in their hands.

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The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports the Nets are giving up four unprotected first-round draft picks and four first-round pick swaps to get their man in a wild deal that also involves Cleveland and Indiana.

ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski called Houston’s return “one of the strongest draft packages in league history”.

“Whatever the future of Kyrie Irving with the Nets, this trade does one more important thing for Brooklyn: It makes a strong case to help keep the franchise’s most important player — Kevin Durant — beyond his current contract,” Wojnarowski added.

The Rockets will also get Victor Oladipo, Aussie Dante Exum and Rodions Kurucs.

But the man they won’t get is Ben Simmons.

While his offensive production has been down to start the season, Simmons has proven himself to be one of the best defenders in the NBA.

An All-Defensive first team member last season and 2018 Rookie of the Year, Simmons’ relationship with Joel Embiid has long been criticised as not being strong enough to bring a championship back to Philadelphia.

But with shooters brought into the team to allow Embiid and Simmons to operate in the paint, ESPN’s The Undefeated reporter Marc J. Spears tweeted that the Aussie believes this season is different.

“Hearing Ben Simmons was pretty ecstatic to not be traded from the Sixers to Houston for James Harden and believes his team is capable of bringing a title to Philadelphia. Doc Rivers is also a huge fan of Simmons and believes the best is yet to come with two-time NBA All-Star,” he tweeted.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic said Simmons is “fine” after the deal went down with Shams Charania reporting that Simmons was put on the trading block.

In the end, the Rockets believed “the Nets offer just supplanted that” and that the 76ers didn’t want to “mortgage their entire future” on Harden, according to Charania.

The Simmons deal reportedly had Simmons and Matisse Thybulle but the Rockets also wanted rookie Tyrese Maxey.

But CBS’s Brad Botkin, who said he didn’t believe Simmons was a franchise player but that the Aussie was the one thing the Rockets didn’t get with the big trade haul.

“It’s not a terrible bet. Still, not coming away with Simmons in a situation like this is a risk. You can pile up picks all you want and never end up with a franchise player, which some people still believe Simmons can be with the right supporting cast,” he wrote in a piece pondering if the Rockets got too greedy with the deal.

For the Nets, Harden has proved to be a divisive player with his petulant tantrum to get out of Houston.

It will also have a lot of money tied up in its best three players.

Irving, Durant and Harden all have two years left on their deals worth $34 million ($A44m), $40m ($A52m) and $44m ($57m) a season, at least $236 million ($A305m) according to The Athletic.

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons said in November that a Harden trade to Brooklyn could become a “beautiful disaster.”

“It’s three guys who are used to having the ball all the time,” he said on the Bill Simmons podcast.

“Harden and Durant are really good friends from way, way back. Kyrie is somebody that likes to have the ball. I don’t know how I feel about it. It could be a beautiful disaster, or it could be absolutely devastating.”

Just yesterday, Harden slammed the franchise.

“(The Rockets are) just not good enough. Chemistry, talent-wise, it was clear,” he said in a press conference.

“I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”

But it bent his former teammate’s noses out of shape with DeMarcus Cousins

“Me, personally, I don’t feel betrayed at all,” Cousins said. “My interest was playing with John Wall to be brutally honest. With that being said, the disrespect started way before any interview. Just the approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the answers off the court. I mean, the disrespect started way before.”

And the move has also drawn a target on the Nets’ back with anything short of a championship to be considered a failure.

The New York Post’s Mike Vaccaro said the offensive talents of the team could see 150 points being put on some nights – but it’s come at the expense of the side defensively.

“Taking the Bucks to seven games in an epic Eastern final won’t be enough. Falling to the Lakers in a memorable Finals? Nope. The Nets aren’t just all-in for the next 2-3 years, they are all in for the rest of the decade. Their viability exists in the here and now, defined by a simple equation: Parade or no parade?”

Only time will tell if any of these gambles will pay off.

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Young Australian’s struck of luck winning $20 million on the lottery, immediately planning an early retirement

A young Australian in his 20s has planned to quit work and settle down after bagging the entire $20 million Powerball jackpot.

The university student from MacGregor, who wishes to remain anonymous, had the biggest struck of luck as the only winning entry for Division One last night.

After discovering he had won in an ecstatic call with an official from The Lott, the man said he would have to wait until later this morning to tell his family. The family had been asleep when he tried to call with the good news.

“They’ll see all these missed calls from me,” he said, adding that he had kept putting off getting his ticket until shortly before the draw closed. He even revealed that every time he could see the news about a lottery winner, he had always thought ‘That lucky guy, it’s going to be me next time’.

Meanwhile, he said he planned on watching a movie to calm himself down, while taking in the life-changing win he just experienced, and even plotting his early retirement.

“I’m never going to work again. People give their whole lives to work, but I’m going to put my family and friends first. I’m going to help them and surprise them — some have been through a tough year.”

Powerball’s draw 1283 winning numbers were 29, 4, 17, 16, 33, 5 and 9. The Powerball number was 13.

Victoria coronavirus restrictions: Melbourne residents ‘ecstatic’ about new freedoms as home visit details to come

For many Victorians, watching Premier Daniel Andrews’s coronavirus press conferences has become a gloomy part of the daily routine under lockdown.

But Monday’s update, in which he announced many of Melbourne’s restrictions would be lifted after months of lockdown, generated sighs of relief across the city.

Richmond residents Jason Samuel and Victoria Sparks said hearing the news was “quite emotional”.

“I came downstairs and she [Ms Sparks] was shedding a tear,” Mr Samuel said.

“Our parents live in Gippsland so we’re looking forward to getting down to Cape Paterson and spending some time down there too,” Ms Sparks said.

Victoria recorded its first day of zero cases in more than four months on Monday, prompting Mr Andrews to announce a widespread lifting of Melbourne’s restrictions.

Among the changes taking place from 11:59pm tonight, hospitality, retail and beauty services are being permitted to reopen, and the four reasons to leave home are being scrapped.

And from 11:59pm on November 8, the 25km-radius travel limit will be axed and travel between Melbourne and regional Victoria will be permitted.

An announcement finalising the rules surrounding home visits is expected to be made today. Currently only intimate partners and people in single social bubbles can visit other people at their homes.


Beauty and hospitality businesses ‘ecstatic’ to reopen

Many business owners have been critical of the Government’s pace of reopening. But Andy Mullins, the owner of St Kilda’s iconic Espy Hotel, said now was a time for gratitude.

“We’ve taken a pretty philosophical view,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“I look at what people have worked so, so hard to get us to, this state of being, which is not where other countries are.

“And that’s the reason why in a couple of weeks’ time there will be … people having beers out the front, and that’s why every other cafe and bar is going to be firing.

Beauty therapist Leanne Jones said she was “ecstatic” about reopening, even with short notice.

Beauty therapist Leanne Jones says many clients are looking forward to having some normality back in their lives.(ABC News)

“We’ve had seven months to prepare for this, we’ve got our COVID plans ready,” she said.

Ms Jones said during Mr Andrews’s announcement her phone was “lighting up like a Christmas tree” with people wanting to book in for treatments.

“Everybody wants to get their waxing done, everybody wants to get their grooming done, and they just want to be out and about and they want some normality to their lives,” she said.

Bakery worker Simona said she was looking forward to going out for pizza and having customers back in person.

“During the day, all day by myself without customers, it’s completely different. It’s a different style of work and I don’t like it,” she said.

“With customers inside, the time goes so much faster — you don’t realise and the day is over so much faster.”

Bakery worker Simona holds up a tray of gingerbread men and does the thumbs up.
Simona is excited to see customers in the bakery again.(ABC News: Iskhandar Razak)

Nancy Baxter, an epidemiologist at the University of Melbourne, said the fact Victoria still had some restrictions in place when its second wave began might have helped prevent the state’s positive daily case numbers from spiralling into the thousands.

Some European countries, including Spain, France, the UK and Italy, have seen rapid spikes during October.

“It just came back and came back roaring, and now they have peak numbers that are far higher than their initial wave,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.

“This is what can happen if we open up too quickly.”

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Premier Daniel Andrews says “now is the time to open up” and announces which restrictions will be relaxed.

A bookshop worker said Melbourne’s lockdown had been “really hard” but seeing the case number drop to zero made it “feel like it was worthwhile”.

“It’s good we’ve waited until this time,” she said.

“Having a zero day today means I feel a lot more positive about it and am really excited to have people back in [the bookshop] and have it opening up.”

She said she was looking forward to going out for drinks and coffees again, but was eager to have friends over too.

“One of the biggest things has been not being able to have people in the house — just having one friend around for dinner, sitting with someone in your house, just being able to spend time with a friend,” she said.

“Being outside’s been really nice, but particularly with the weather it’s not always ideal.”

Details on restrictions for home visits yet to come

Melburnians will be able to visit one another at their homes from 11:59pm tonight, but the fine print is yet to be announced.

As he announced the reopening of hospitality, retail and beauty businesses to customers from Wednesday, Mr Andrews said home visits would also be allowed, but the rules weren’t settled yet.

He did say the idea of a “bubble” was unlikely to be adopted because authorities felt it could be too confusing.

But he said public health teams needed more time to think about the rules around this particular eased restriction, due to the extremely high risk home visits have posed throughout the pandemic.

“Not exclusively, not every single case is attributable to this, but many cases in any chain of transmission that we’ve had to deal with over the whole year, you can almost always trace them back to someone visiting someone who shouldn’t have done that,” he said.

Five workers wearing aprons with the words "Sharing the love" do the thumbs up and sheer in a restaurant kitchen.
Hospitality workers are looking forward to being able to seat patrons indoors and outdoors again.(ABC News)

Mr Andrews said he wasn’t seeking to blame anyone, but it was important to understand that people making home visits against the rules had played a role in the spread of the northern suburbs outbreak, which for a time threatened to derail Melbourne’s reopening.

“You might think, ‘oh look I feel ok, everything’s fine, I’ll just sneak over here, I’ll just do this, do that, it won’t be a big problem, I’ve followed the rules all year, I’ll just go and do that’,” he said.

The Premier hinted that the rules in regional Victoria, which can allow for adults from three different households and their dependents to come together, might be too relaxed for Melbourne right now.

A woman wearing a mask and pink ear muffs looks at her phone.
Melburnians will be allowed to leave home for any reason from Wednesday.(ABC News: John Graham)

“That can be a much bigger group than we perhaps might like in Melbourne, noting that there is a difference in terms of the virus levels in regional Victoria versus metropolitan Melbourne,” he said.

Outdoor gatherings remain capped at 10 people, but will no longer be limited to just two households.

The Victorian Opposition has pressed for the state to immediately move to the restrictions currently in place in New South Wales, arguing the state has a similar caseload and contact tracing capacity.

In NSW, up to 20 people can visit another household at any one time, including adults and children and excluding members of the household being visited.

There is no daily limit on visitors, provided they do not exceed 20 at any given time, but the NSW Chief Health Officer recommends no more than 10 visitors at a time.

If more than 20 visitors attend, every person will be held individually responsible for breaching public health orders.

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