Report: Maloof family near deal to sell Kings to Hansen’s Seattle syndicate

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Seattle appears about to get the Sonics back.

And Sacramento fans are about to take the place of Seattle fans as “good fan base screwed over by bad ownership.”

We told you earlier today that there had been some buzz building that a deal was nearing where the Maloof family would sell the Sacramento Kings to Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer’s Seattle group. A group that already has arena plans well underway and just waiting on a team.

Now Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network says that deal is near done.

Wow. That frankly is overpaying for a franchise — that will be the biggest sale price in NBA history — but we have known for a while that Hansen was willing to overpay to get a team in his building.

The deal is not finalized and the Maloofs are a house divided and one known to change direction on a whim. But this appears very close to real and is something David Stern had reportedly pushed for behind the scenes. Wojnarowski reports the Maloofs would keep a minority ownership in the team, but would have no say in how the franchise is run.

The team would move up next season then play a couple seasons in the old Key Arena while a new building is constructed. Plans for that building are well underway and are in an environmental review phase. But the financing is in place.

This is great news for Seattle, a large and passionate NBA fan base that deserves an NBA team. The franchise can take the Sonics name back, it was left when the Sonics became the Thunder in Oklahoma City.

But this sucks for the fans in Sacramento, who did nothing wrong but have ownership that made bad investments elsewhere that impacted their ability to run an NBA team. Mayor Kevin Johnson fought hard to get a workable deal in place to build a new arena in Sacramento that would keep the Kings, but it required a buy in from the Maloof family and they just would not.

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?