Report: Rockets in lead to trade for Chris Kaman

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The Houston Rockets have gone after every center with a heartbeat that has come on the market since the lockout ended, and they may finally be getting one. A pretty good one.

The Rockets are in the lead to land Chris Kaman, reports Sam Amick at Sports Illustrated.

The Houston Rockets have had extensive discussions with the New Orleans Hornets about center Chris Kaman and appear to be in the lead to trade for him, numerous sources told SI.com….

While no deal is imminent and the pieces are still being discussed, sources said the talks have involved the Rockets’ two top-10 picks from the 2009 draft — center Hasheem Thabeet (No. 2 by Memphis) and power forward Jordan Hill (No. 8 by New York). The Rockets have other young former first-rounders who could be included as well, among them second-year forward Patrick Patterson, third-year point guard Jonny Flynn and third-year small forward Terrence Williams. They also have a 2012 first-round pick from the Knicks that the Hornets would love to obtain.

Don’t expect this to happen fast — remember the league owns the Hornets right now so there are extra hoops to jump through. Just ask the Lakers.

Also, Cleveland, San Antonio and Indiana are also still in the running, reports SI.

This would be an upgrade for the Rockets — people tend to underestimate Kaman. This is a solid, strong NBA center who can provide some points, rebounds and a defensive presence in the paint. He is not elite, but he is a career 12 and 8 guy who plays within himself and is tough.

Houston is 12-9 this season, eight seed in the West right now, with Jordan Hill at center. This gives them some much needed balance.

You can bet that Knicks pick is part of the deal.

As a side note, the Bulls may be in the lead to land Joel Przybilla, when he decides it is time return, reports the Chicago Tribune.

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.

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?