Wizards to keep Ernie Grunfeld around a couple more years

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Ernie Grunfeld will be charged with cleaning up his own mess.

The team president will stay as the man guiding the Wizards ship for at least a couple more years, reports CSNWashington.com (the Washington Post broke the story). Grunfeld has been with the team since 2003 and now will be with them through the summer of 2014 at least.

The Wizards have missed the playoffs the last four years and not had a winning percentage above .317 in that stretch. They have made the playoffs four of the nine years Grunfeld has been in charge but never advanced past the second round.

Despite having a potential superstar in No. 1 overall pick John Wall the Wizards surrounded him with guys such as Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and the team went nowhere and had a bad locker room. Grunfeld built that. Now he will be the guy charged with cleaning it up, something that started since owner Ted Leonsis came in and ordered a rebuild. A key move there was when McGee and Nick Young were moved for Nene this season. Flip Saunders was fired after a 2-15 start this season and the question now is what coach will come in to turn the culture and team around.

The Post says that a number of agents had reached out to Leonsis to promote new candidates for GM, but that Leonsis didn’t take their calls.

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?