Report: Deron Williams has Lakers on his list (behind Nets)

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A Deron Williams and Kobe Bryant backcourt, with Andrew Bynum in the paint. That team could be very dangerous.

Apparently, Deron Williams has thought about it.

In an article where he says the Lakers and Magic need to do a Bynum for Dwight Howard swap, Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated drops some interesting knowledge about D-Will.

A source close to the three-time All-Star said he would be interested in joining the Lakers, though it would have to be via a sign-and-trade deal. (Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions, who was acquired from Cleveland at the trade deadline, has a $4.5 million player option for next season.) The source said Williams’ preference, however, is for the Nets to improve the roster sufficiently enough that he can feel good about staying put rather than fear a repeat of this season, when they finished 22-44. As for Dallas, which sacrificed its best chance to defend the title by preserving salary-cap space last summer in anticipation of this free-agent class, the source said of the Mavericks: “There’s no longevity there.” If owner Mark Cuban can clear enough space to sign a worthy sidekick for Williams, though, then maybe he’d join his hometown team after all.

As Amick said, Williams to the Lakers would have to be a sign-and-trade, and under the new CBA that new deal can be for what he would get as a free agent from a non-Bird rights team. (Meaning, no more of what Carmelo Anthony did and get the hometown max deal and the new home.)

The Lakers are shopping Pau Gasol around this summer, would the Nets be open to a Gasol for D-Will sign-and-trade? It’s better than the nothing they get if he goes to Dallas. That said, if I were the Nets, I would demand Bynum in the deal, not Gasol.

What the Nets really want is to get one of those top three spots in the draft lottery, then use that to help facilitate a trade with Orlando to bring Howard to Brooklyn. Then Williams re-signs and Jay Z is happy… well, happier. You have to think he’s pretty happy most of the time.

Whatever happens with D-Will, he wants to get it wrapped up before the Olympics so look for it to move quickly after July 1. Until then, it’s all speculation.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Cavaliers on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

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.