Can we blame the Lakers television deal for the lockout?

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There is plenty of blame to go around for why we are still sitting here with an NBA lockout going on and the regular season postponed.

David Stern, Billy Hunter, Kevin Garnett, Paul Allen, Derek Fisher, Robert Saver and Bennett Salvatore are all to blame. Oh, wait, not Salvatore. I just blame him for everything wrong with the NBA out of habit. My bad.

But now we can add another to the blame list — Jerry Buss and the Lakers new massive television deal. Brian Windhorst of ESPN passes along this tidbit.

When the Lakers agreed to a new local television deal worth several billion dollars last winter, it only further united their small-market competition in pressing for a makeover of both the revenue-sharing system and the split with the players.

“That Lakers’ TV deal scared the hell out of everybody,” one league official said. “Everyone thought there is no way to compete with that. Then everyone started thinking that it wasn’t fair that they didn’t have to share it with the teams they’re playing against.”

And here we are now, with the owners holding the hard line.

The other owners realized that the Lakers are raking in the cash, that the Celtics are about to do the same with a new deal with Comcast.

Those small market owners wanted a chunk of that money — make no mistake, this whole lockout is about cash — but they cleverly phrased it as “competitive balance.” They say it’s not about the money, it’s about a chance to compete.

If they want to compete, they need to draft well and make smart decisions with their contracts. The Raptors had a larger payroll than the Heat last season, money alone is not the answer.

So the small market owners started driving the bus, demanding major givebacks from the players and a bigger share of revenue sharing from the larger market teams. Those larger market teams don’t want to cut into their profits, so they say, “fine with the revenue sharing, but all that money we send out has to be new revenue we get in from this labor deal.”

And suddenly you have big-market owners coming in as hardliners, too.

And suddenly you are approaching Nov. 1 — the day the season was supposed to start — and you have no labor deal. You have a lockout. You have a lot of greedy people looking foolish.

Yet, here we are.

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.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”