Did Warriors, Wizards turn down James Harden deals?

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Whether you choose to believe this or not really comes down to how much you believe in ESPN’s Bill Simmons.

But NBA trades do not work where a potential available player is only discussed with one team. If a GM is shopping — or even just testing the market — for a specific player then that idea is bounced off a number of teams. You don’t buy a new car by just showing up at the dealer and taking the price he offers, you check online and get a sense of the price of the car from multiple places before making a purchase. Trades work more like that.

So you can be sure that the Rockets were not the only team James Harden was shopped to before the season. The Rockets just jumped at it and had the best deal. But in his column at Grantland about the worst salaries in the NBA (which is admittedly a week old) Simmons threw in this nugget. (Hat tip to The Big Lead for finding this, I didn’t read the column.)

Multiple sources have told me that, when Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti decided to shop James Harden, Golden State was his first call. He wanted Klay Thompson and a pick. The Warriors would only consider the trade if Oklahoma City took back Biedrins or Jefferson for 2013 expirings, knowing they’d get crushed by the luxury tax in 2014 with Harden’s extension plus Steph Curry’s extension plus David Lee plus Bogut/Jefferson/Biedrins.13 At that point, Presti went to Washington (offering Harden for Bradley Beal, and unbelievably getting turned down), then Houston (where the shopping heated up). Presti never ended up calling Golden State back.

Again, what you think of this depends on what you think of Simmons. The Wizards news isn’t new. You can be sure Presti didn’t just talk to Daryl Morey about the deal, but trades also don’t happen in quite the linear fashion described. There is back and forth over time and usually one option being explored heats up. You can believe what you want, there likely is some truth here at least.

The other thing of note: When this trade went down the question was “How good is James Harden, really?” No doubt he was good, the guy had gone to the finals the year before as a key cog for the Oklahoma City Thunder. But the question was could he be a franchise anchor? He could be a No. 2, a No. 1A maybe, but in OKC Kevin Durant is the Alpha Dog. There were legitimate questions about how Harden would perform when thrown into that role.

Turns out, Harden can be the alpha dog. The guy you can build a franchise around. And the Wizards and Warriors could use a guy like that.

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?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”