Report: Dwight Howard flip-flops again, will not opt-in with Magic

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Dwight Howard has handled his exit from Orlando about as poorly as one person can. He has made LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony look smooth.

And it will be an exit from Orlando now. You can bet after today the Magic are burning up the phones in an effort to get a deal done before Thursday’s 3 p.m. eastern deadline.

After earlier in the day telling a few teammates and members of the Magic management that he would not exercise his option and “opt-in” to stay with the Magic next season, Howard has changed his mind again according to Marc Stein at ESPN and multiple other reports. He would not sign the papers that took his option off the table.

In a Wednesday night conference call with Orlando Magic officials before the team’s game in San Antonio, Dwight Howard told the Magic that he is not prepared to surrender the option to become a free agent at season’s end, according to sources with knowledge of the discussion…

During the call, sources said, Howard told the Magic that staying in Orlando is his first choice. But he also made it clear that he was not prepared to relinquish the (Early Termination Option) ETO in his contract that allows him to become a free agent.

Dwight, Dwight, Dwight. I know it’s an election year, but you just can’t come off as flip-flopping like this. It gets politicians, and it’s going to get you.

When asked why Howard told several teammates and members of the organization earlier in the day that he had indeed decided not to opt out of his contract, the source insisted that Howard “didn’t fully understand the ramifications” of surrendering his ETO and did so largely because Magic officials warned him that he would be traded by Thursday’s 3 p.m. trading deadline if he did not take that step.

Orlando is now going to work hard to trade him before the deadline. I’d expect him to be moved — and not necessarily to the Nets or a place he wants. The Magic will not make the best move for the Magic without concern for Howard.

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.”