Deron Williams makes it clear he will become free agent

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Ultimately, Dwight Howard wanted to stay in Orlando and — after a couple days of ridiculous flip-flopping — he decided to “opt in.” (Technically he waived his right to opt-out of his contract, but we’ll go with opt-in.) Dwight Howard has a loyalty to Orlando that overcame everything else.

Deron Williams has no such loyalty to New Jersey.

The day after Howard’s decision, Williams was asked if he would opt-in with the Nets. At least he didn’t laugh outright. But this is pretty close. Here are the tweets from Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

Deron Williams tells the Daily News: “I will not op-in. Its not monkey see, monkey do.”

So to clarify, Deron says he will definitely become a free agent after the season and weigh his options

Somewhere, Mark Cuban involuntarily smiled.

Williams has kept quiet this season and not talked about wanting to be traded or who the Nets needed to get to keep him. As best he could he stayed out of the spotlight.

Sorry Nets fans, he’s as good as gone. He’s going to opt out for sure and is a good bet to sign in his home town of Dallas next season. Which makes the Nets trade-deadline move to get Gerald Wallace — a trade meant to bolster the team in the short term — makes no sense. They gave up their first-round pick. This is a deep draft, the Nets could have gotten a good player. Instead they got Wallace, a player who also can opt-out after the season.

The new Barclay Center in Brooklyn better be stunning, because it will need to distract Nets fans from the team next season, they are going to be awful.

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?