Dwight Howard trade talks stall with Cleveland out as third team

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If Dwight Howard is going to be a Brooklyn Net anytime soon, either Magic and Nets are going to have to find another team to facilitate this or they are going to have to figure out a two-team trade. Something they have been unable to do for a year.

Talks are still going on to complete Dwight Howard blockbuster trade to the Brooklyn Nets but the Cleveland Cavaliers are now out of the picture, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network. That makes this deal much harder to pull off because the Magic want cap relief and the Nets do not want to take on the deals of both Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries. ESPN reports that the Bobcats have been mentioned as a potential third trading partner, although they have a long way to go.

Cleveland could be out in part because they could not come to an agreement with Humphries on a sing-and-trade. Cleveland had wanted to do a one-year deal, Humphries was thinking four and the two sides apparently could not reach a compromise.

But there may be more to it, ESPN reports.

Multiple league executives told ESPN.com on Sunday that there is growing reluctance among some teams to participate in the sort of three-team deal that would get Howard to Brooklyn, amid some league wide dissatisfaction that the Los Angeles Lakers were able to swing a deal for Steve Nash last week.

Being the cog in creating another super team in Brooklyn, with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson already in the mix, is not palatable to some teams concerned about competitive balance.

“You can talk about the new (luxury) tax all you want, but if the Lakers get Nash and the Nets get Howard, then what did the new CBA accomplish?” one GM said. “You have to realize part of long-term planning is making sure you don’t help create teams you can’t beat.”

While this deal teeters and may fall, the Magic continued to talk to other teams, reports ESPN. The Lakers and Rockets were interested but not close to a deal, still talks are going on. But they are a long way from reality.

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.