Sale of Kings means needed front office, coaching changes

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Whatever happened with the sale of the Kings, one thing was a lock — big front office changes and a coaching change were on the way.

Now that the deal is done and the Kings will be staying in Sacramento, don’t expect it to be long before you see changes — Geoff Petrie and Keith Smart out as coach. Everyone around the league knew they were lame ducks the second half of the season.

Sam Amick at the USA Today confirmed that, although he put it more kindly and suggested possible replacements (remember, new Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is selling his minority interest in Golden State to buy the Kings).

If Kings coach Keith Smart is not retained as is expected, then Warriors assistant Michael Malone – a former assistant in Cleveland and New Orleans who sparked dramatic defensive improvement at each of his NBA stops and has interviewed for several head coaching vacancies – is expected to be a candidate.

Longtime Kings general manager Geoff Petrie is not expected to be retained either after the team’s 28-54 campaign, and one possible successor who would certainly bring name recognition was on hand on Thursday night. Warriors’ legend Chris Mullin, who called Game 6 as a television commentator for ESPN, was in the team’s front office from 2004 to 2009 and said he would be open to discussing the situation in Sacramento. He has met Ranadive several times but said they had not yet discussed the possibility.

Malone, along with Brian Shaw and Kelvin Sampson, is one of the hottest assistant coach names to move into the big chair. With the Warriors now out of the playoffs, look for him to have series of interviews, but he would be a good choice.

The Kings front office likely will become more advanced stats friendly, something we saw with the Warriors and in places such as Memphis. Almost all teams use them now, just to varying degrees, but look for the Kings to move up that curve.

There are some good pieces — DeMarcus Cousins, if you can get him focused, Isaiah Thomas, even Marcus Thornton — but there is a lot of work to be done. The team needed a new direction and energy, and they are about to get that.

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 Cavaliers 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. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his 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.

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.