Paul Millsap expected to forgo extension for free agency

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The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Utah Jazz have offered forward Paul Millsap a three-year, $25 million max contract extension, showing their commitment to the near All-Star. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, they’re not going to be able to avoid Millsap hitting the open market, according to the report:

Initial indications are Millsap won’t agree to the extension, though, preferring to enter free agency in 2013 with plans to cash in on an inflated 2012 market that saw mid-tier forwards such as Gerald Wallace, Andrei Kirilenko, Nicolas Batum and Ryan Anderson recently receive lucrative multiyear contracts.

via Utah Jazz: Contract talks begin between Jazz, Paul Millsap | The Salt Lake Tribune.

No shocker there. On top of the ability to test where he wants to go and the value of market competition raising his price tag, the new CBA, as we’ve tried to point out time and time again, makes it a near-absurdity to ever sign an extension. By becoming a free agent, Millsap will be eligible for a four-year deal from any other team and a five-year deal from the Jazz.

Millsap signed for four-years and $32 million in 2009 which was thought to be excessive at the time and has quickly become one of the better value contracts in the league. If Millsap’s approach shifts from “I want to see what’s out there” to “I’m definitely leaving,” we could see the budget version of the trade dilemmas that have faced other small markets dealing with available stars. Millsap should have been targeted by teams over the past two years looking for a budget star. He’s a versatile center who can power inside and step out and hit the three, rebounds well and has no injury concerns. He’s the guy you want if you want a complimentary star to an alpha dog.

We’ll have to see if the talk of leaving is just talk, and if so, if Millsap can get the kind of big money from Utah he’ll want, even with that loaded frontcourt.

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?