Stoudemire says it’s a championship or bust for Knicks

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Be ready for failure, Knicks fans.

Amare Stoudemire set the parameters for next season while speaking with MSG during a Knicks Summer League contest (as transcribed by Newsday). And like you want a competitor to say, he set the bar very high.

“Anything less than a championship,” the power forward said on MSG Thursday during Knicks’ Summer League broadcast from Las Vegas, “is a waste of a season.”

The Knicks should be better next season — just a full season under Mike Woodson without the turmoil of a mid-season coaching switch will help. Marcus Camby is a good fit as a backup big man and Raymond Felton seems motivated. They will get a good seed, maybe have a first round home court advantage, maybe get to the second round.

But unless there are some big changes, they are not coming out of the East. Miami got better and they have the crown. Boston got better. Chicago is potentially a title contender depending on Derrick Rose. After that there is a step down to the next tier in the East, where New York, Indiana and likely Brooklyn live. For the Knicks to get out of the East pretty much everything has to go right, then they would get to the finals and run into the Thunder or Lakers and, well. Bust.

But you don’t really want or expect Stoudemire to say anything otherwise.

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?