With solid plans in Seattle and Sacramento, NBA owners face hard decision

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Seattle’s ownership group has plenty of money with the Microsoft CEO as the No. 2 guy (and a $30 million deposit to buy the Kings), an arena with approvals and on to the environmental stage, an energetic fan base, and most importantly an agreement with the current owners to buy the Sacramento Kings to move them north.

Sacramento has put together a counter-offer that appears to have everything the league would want — an owner who almost bought the Golden State Warriors a couple years ago, a billionaire behind him driving an effort for a new arena, and a proactive mayor in Kevin Johnson putting it all together. Those are the kind of things the NBA looks for in a market.

Which means come April 18-19 in New York — when the owners get together and vote on the proposed sale and relocation — there will be a hard choice.

On one hand, the league does not want to set a precedent of leaving a market that has shown a genuine commitment — especially from local politicians who have voted to put up money— because what Sacramento has done is exactly what the league wants from its cities.

On the other hand, pretty much every owner in that room is going to sell his team some day. If the Maloofs have struck a legitimate deal to sell the team, why should the league dictate who a team can be sold to? Those owners don’t want to tie their own hands. The owners are going to fear that prescedent and what it could mean for them.

Putting a team in Seattle does right an old wrong, but at the cost of creating a new problem.

There are no easy answers here for owners, no tidy solutions. Do they leave a market that has done everything right to keep its team? Do they ignore that the Seattle group has done everything right to get a team? Seattle is a slightly larger television market with a higher per capita income, does that play a role?

Owners have time to think about it. It likely comes down to money for the league (questions such as how much does that Seattle television market impact the next national TV deal?). But there are no easy answers and eventually they will have to make a vote that will make one market very angry.

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?