Look for Portland, Brooklyn to make big-money run at Nash

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We told you the Chicago Bulls may reach out to Steve Nash and see if the veteran point guard wants to play for them for the league minimum. But if Nash is willing to play for that price to chase a ring he will have his choice of destinations — Miami, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles.

But what if he still wants to get paid?

There are a couple teams that may be attractive and are going to make bigger offers to Nash, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

Sources briefed on the matter told ESPN.com that the three teams with salary-cap space best positioned to make a credible run at the 38-year-old, at this early juncture, are Portland, Toronto and Brooklyn (should the Nets lose D-Will). New York and Miami are also frequently mentioned as potential Nash destinations, but neither the Knicks nor the Heat have the requisite cap room to make a serious bid.

Toronto has the obvious attraction of being in Nash’s native Canada (wrong end of the country, but still north of the border). And the Raptors are going to be better than people think next season, they are primed to take a step forward. That doesn’t mean Toronto will be good yet, however, and does Nash want that? Brooklyn is kind of in the same boat — if there is no Deron Williams then there is no Dwight Howard and that’s going to mean a lot of losses, Nash or no Nash.

Portland, however, could be a good fit. They have LaMarcus Aldridge inside and a host of good role players such as Nicolas Batum. They are going to have two lottery picks this year to throw in the mix. Portland is rebuilding and even with Nash they are not threatening Oklahoma City yet as the team of the future out West. But they would be pretty good and pretty entertaining, and Nash gets paid.

Still, I would not be shocked if he just stays where he’s at in Phoenix and they make a few roster upgrades.

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?