It’s official: Doc Rivers will return as Celtics coach

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Was there really any doubt? You didn’t really buy into the insane notion he would leave the Celtics to coach the Clippers, did you?

Doc Rivers will be back to coach the Boston Celtics next season. GM Danny Ainge confirmed that to Gary Washburn the Boston Globe (via A. Sherrod Blakely at CSNNE.com)

A league source confirmed an earlier report by the Boston Globe that Rivers would in fact return to the sidelines for the Celtics next season.

“We’ve got a coach everybody would love to have,” Ainge told the Globe.

Well, that’s one piece of the puzzle.

Next up is “What to do with Paul Pierce?” He is owed $15 million next season or the Celtics can buy him out by June 30 for $5 million. What happens to Pierce likely determines what happens to Kevin Garnett — if Pierce is back KG probably will be, if Pierce is bought out KG probably retires.

So the real question is: Do you want to blow the whole thing up and start rebuilding now? Because you’re not going to be that bad a rebuilding team, not with Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. In the East you might compete for the eight seed with those two and a couple of shooters. You’re not going to seriously be in the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes. So do you bring everybody back and be a dangerous five seed, or do you just blow it up now and start over?

Whatever you do, Doc Rivers will be your coach.

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?