Another report Wizards will retain Randy Wittman as coach

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While the team itself denies that there is any decision made, more and more reports are bubbling up that the Washington Wizards have decided to strip the interim tag off Randy Wittman and keep him as coach.

The latest such report comes from Ric Bucher at ESPN:

Had the Wizards won the draft lottery and earned the right to draft Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, the cost of investing in a higher-profile coach might’ve been worthwhile, a source said, but with the Wizards still in rebuilding mode and the job Wittman did with their young players last season, the team will stand pat for now.

Well, that’s a ringing endorsement. If we had a really great player we’d totally go get a top-flight coach, but because we’re still going to suck let’s save a few bucks and keep Wittman. John Wall must be thrilled.

Wittman was 18-31, which included a six-game winning streak to end the season, after taking over 17 games into the season for Flip Saunders. He certainly connected with and got more out of the roster than Flip, but the Wizards were not good either way.

Right now the main goal in Washington needs to be a roster changeover to one that is professional, that shows up to work prepared. The Nene for JaVale McGee trade was a step down that road, but more moves are expected (we’re looking at you, Andray Blatche and Rashard Lewis). Wittman is a solid NBA coach, which apparently works for Washington.

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?