Amar'e Stoudemire will only kind of leave the Suns empty-handed

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UPDATE 11:38 AM: Although the plan described below is currently in place, LeBron James could make things a bit more interesting if he were to sign with the Knicks. From Paul Coro:

However, if LeBron James picks New York today, the Suns could still have a chance at Lee. The Suns would have to do a sign-and-trade with New York before the Knicks signed James. Even then, they would have to outdo other suitors, who might be offering Lee more money or be offering New York a better package. Golden State was close to an agreement that would send Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Kelenna Azubuike to New York but Lee would have to agree to going to the Warriors. Also, Phoenix is debating whether it would give Lee a contract averaging about $13 million annually like he wants. By comparison, Steve Nash will make $10.3 million this season.

11:00 AM: Amar’e Stoudemire has had one foot in the Phoenix Suns’ door, even as he wined and dined in NYC. It didn’t mean much at all, but with free agents unable to officially sign contracts until today, Phoenix was reportedly interested in pursuing a sign-and-trade for the Knicks’ David Lee to hedge their losses. It would have been a fine move for a Suns team locked out of of big-game free agency due to their other salary commitments, but apparently it wasn’t meant to be.

However, the Suns and Knicks will still do a sign-and-trade, according to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, and the Suns and Bulls will also complete a smaller trade on the side. In exchange for Stoudemire, the Suns will receive a $16.5 million trade exception, which could be awfully valuable as teams look to ditch long-term deals on the eve of a new CBA. The Bulls will sign-and-trade Hakim Warrick (who has already agreed to a deal with Phoenix) to the Suns by way of that trade exception, which should cut it to $13.5 million.

This could be pretty awesome for the Suns, supposing they plan their moves carefully. Once Stoudemire’s is re-signed, his cap hold is removed, which should actually clear some space for the Suns to sign another free agent. Phoenix can then officially acquire Warrick at a later date, preserving their cap space and using the trade exception to instead absorb his new contract.

The Knicks also gain about $800k in cap space. Cue the ticker tape parade.

This is a great setup for Phoenix. Stoudemire may not have landed Lee in return, but the Suns are set to make another off-season acquisition to bolster their roster (supposing they renounce the rights to Louis Amundson and Jarron Collins) while also putting them in position to make another pick-up down the road. The Suns could really get some value here, even if Amar’e wasn’t sent out in a more traditional sign-and-trade.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

Nets’ national anthem singer kneels to finish performance

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NEW YORK (AP)—  The national anthem singer at the Brooklyn Nets’ home opener took a knee at the end of her performance.

Justine Skye was nearing the completion of the song Friday night when she went to one knee for the finish. There were some cheers, but appeared to be more boos from the crowd at Barclays Center to see the Nets play the Orlando Magic.

NBA players have continued to stand during the playing of the anthems, as required by league rule.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.