Lakers want to move quickly on Howard or focus on Bynum extension

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The Lakers and Magic sat down Tuesday and talked about what it would take to get a Dwight Howard trade done.

We told you that was happening and Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com confirmed it. We also told you that they can talk all they want but unless Andrew Bynum agrees to commit to staying in Orlando long term — remember he is a free agent next summer as well — the Magic aren’t going to do it. So far Bynum has not (and Howard has not committed to staying in Los Angeles). Then there is the added issue that the Magic have wanted young players and picks, and wanted to move their anchor contracts like Jason Richardson in a deal — the Lakers might be willing to take on Richardson or they mays need to bring in at least one more team to make the deal work.

All of which is to say the Lakers are doing their due diligence and trying, but I wouldn’t bet the house on Howard in purple and gold. Or even $5.

And if that falls through, the Lakers will quickly turn their attention to getting Andrew Bynum to sign long-term with the team, ESPNLosAngeles.com reports.

Bynum and his agent, David Lee, are scheduled to return from an Alaskan fishing vacation Wednesday. Lakers officials are set to meet Wednesday to discuss their negotiating strategy with Bynum before reaching out to his representative but are well aware that there will not be much wiggle room once the negotiations begin; Bynum will expect a max contract extension.

There is no negotiation here. Roy Hibbert and Brook Lopez just got max deals, and if that is the market Bynum — already an All-Star and just starting to come into his prime — is a max player. Yes he can be temperamental and yes there is an injury history, doesn’t matter. A max contract for Bynum isn’t a bad deal. In fact, it’s the only deal.

The only question is if he signs an extension or, more likely under the new rules, becomes a free agent and then re-signs with the Lakers. Los Angeles can offer larger raises and one more guaranteed year than any other team, they likely can keep Bynum.

Well, if they don’t trade him first.

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?