Rumors fly but reality is Dwight Howard trade not imminent

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As your Friday moved from an office cubicle to a small table in dimly lit restaurant, there started to be a buzz out on the Web — that a Dwight Howard trade was imminent. Possibly to the Lakers. It was fueled by reports from unusual sources.

Relax people.

I’ve been told the Howard trade status is today as it has been for the last few. Nothing is on the verge. Orlando is listening to offers, trying to leverage better ones, but they are patient. They can move him now, they can move him in a week or two, they can move him right before training camp. It doesn’t matter when to them, they just want the best deal. And they are not the ones looking the fool right now anyway.

Here is a tweet from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com who also saw the buzz.

The Lakers and other teams remained in talks with the Magic for Dwight Howard today, but a trade is not imminent, league sources say.

The Lakers come up a lot in discussions but there are two reasons right now that deal seems a long shot. First, Howard has not said he will commit to staying in L.A. after this season, and the Lakers are not giving up Andrew Bynum and more in hopes they can keep Howard. They don’t need to. With Steve Nash in house they are a threat right now, there is no reason to gamble with Howard on that. Howard would have to commit.

Secondly, why would Orlando trade a temperamental big man in the last year of his contract for Andrew Bynum, a temperamental big man in the last year of his contract? Remember, Bynum is a free agent next summer, too. Unless Bynum is willing to commit to Orlando like Howard is to Los Angeles, this deal isn’t happening.

One interesting note came from Marc Spears of Yahoo who expressed what has started to become clear from the Nets recent moves — they are tired of playing this game with Orlando.

Nets have “30 percent chance” of landing Dwight in trade but likely would turn attention to FAs if it can’t be done in a week, source tells Y!

My guess is that this starts to pick up some steam early next week, but that is just a guess. Orlando could choose to sit on this until Dec. 15 (when players signed this summer can be traded). They are in no rush. They don’t look worse if this drags on a little longer.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

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 Celtics 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. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s 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.