Herb Simon says to chill out on the Reggie Miller talk

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There were reports earlier this week that the Pacers were considering bringing in Reggie Miller to work under Larry Bird in the hopes that Bird could help groom Miller to be his successor. It was a pretty good plan considering Bird’s been on the fence for the past three seasons about whether to retire or not. But now it seems that the Pacers want to let everyone know that hey, hey, Bird’s their man, if he can’t do it, they’re in trouble because he’s their only plan right now.

From the Indianapolis Star:

When asked via email if he or anybody else has talked to people, including Donnie Walsh, to get their thoughts about Miller in the Pacers front office, Simon said, “No..hoping Larry stays as long as he wants.”

The Pacers started doing background checks on possible replacements for Bird last season when Pacers Sports and Entertainment president Jim Morris made calls around the league about potential candidates. Bird planned to walk away from the job when he met with Simon in May but decided to stick around a little while longer.

via Simon prefers for Bird to remain as president | Pacers Insider blog | The Indianapolis Star | indystar.com.

This sounds like one of those “say what will calm economic experts” thing that doesn’t really reflect the situation. Bird has made a lot of noise about wanting to hang up his manager shoes and go back to the farm, and the fact that he hasn’t dominated at this like he did playing probably sticks with him a bit. But the Pacers need to make it seem like they’re not just stuck in a lame duck year with Bird in charge, hence the email.

Miller’s the right choice to take over, and should be given a shot. Bring him in as General Manager to work under Bird as president, let him learn the ropes, then give him the wheel. Otherwise you’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

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.