Report: People close to Paul Pierce think Celtics don’t bring him back

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The video above from Sunday on Comcast Sportsnet New England, it is CSNNE’s Boston Celtics sideline reporter Greg Dickerson debating what a lot of Celtics fans are debating right now: Tear it down now or bring Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and the rest of the band back for one more year. The Celtics have until June 30 to buy out Pierce’s $15 million contract for next season for $5 million, that will be the first domino.

During the interview Dickerson said something interesting: The people around Pierce — and likely Pierce himself — don’t expect to be back.

“… I know that the company that Paul Pierce hangs around in, they do not believe – and I don’t think Paul Pierce believes – that he is going to be brought back next year at $15 million. I know for a fact that people around Paul Pierce have pretty much resigned themselves to the fact that he’s played his final game in a Boston Celtics uniform. Again, Paul wants to stay – obviously for $15 million — but he wants to finish his career in a Celtics uniform…. Probably a buyout (rather than a trade)…

“(Garnett) doesn’t want to be around for a rebuilding phase for another year. If Paul’s gone, I think without a doubt Kevin Garnett is gone, either by retirement or he finally decides to waive his no-trade clause, and the Celtics maybe work something out with a Clippers team. But the list is real short. The teams that Kevin Garnett would go to, there might be two of them on it, and they both might be the Clippers and Lakers.”

Dickerson shoots down the idea that Doc Rivers will leave to coach another team next year.

For the record, Dickerson says he thinks the Celtics should bring everyone back for one more run, even if they are not going to win a title. As Dickerson notes, tearing it down does mean you start the rebuilding process earlier but with Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and others still in the fold they are not going to be one of the three or four worst teams in the NBA. Without blowing the entire thing up (including trading Rondo and Green) they are not going to have a real shot at Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle or the other elite guys expected in the 2014 NBA Draft. Boston would struggle to become bad enough fast enough.

And if you can’t be that bad, why not bring KG and Pierce back and be an interesting five seed?

But it doesn’t feel like that is the direction things are heading in Boston.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.

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.