Jose Calderon denies rumors he is unhappy, wants trade

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Jose Calderon played well for Toronto last season. A lot of people didn’t notice because, well, he plays for Toronto and they weren’t very good. But Calderon was — 10.5 points a game, 8.8 assists and he had a PER of 16.7.

So, the Raptors went out and got Kyle Lowry in the offseason to be the starting point guard. How’s that for a pat on the back?

That led to all kinds of speculation that Calderon was unhappy and wanted a trade. But back at the Raptors workout facility he told the Toronto Star none of that is true.

“I don’t know if we have to use that word (controversy) before even training camp,” said Calderon before flatly denying a summer report that he was put out by the acquisition of Lowry and wanted a trade from the only NBA team he’s ever played for. “I think we are just two more players for the Raptors team, we’re going to try to win games for the Raptors.

“I think it’s just wanting to make a big thing before anything has started. It doesn’t matter, we have to win games, we want to make the playoffs. If he scores 20 points a game, I’ll be happy; it’s helping us win.”

Calderon may not want a trade from the only team he’s ever played for, but you can bet he is going to come up in rumors. When teams south of the border go shopping for a point guard in a trade the Raptors phone is going to ring and they will get offers for Calderon, who is in the last year of his deal making nearly $10.6 million. Lowry has one season after this but at a very reasonable $6.2 million.

Calderon is handling this like a pro — say it’s about the team, not your minutes. Now we’ll see how he handles a season of trade rumors. But he’s used to having another point guard in the mix, as long as he has been in Toronto there has been T.J. Ford or Jarrett Jack or someone he has to fight for minutes.

Just another day at the office for the Spaniard. So don’t expect public trade demands from him.

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?