Clippers reportedly targeting ‘big names first’ in head coaching search

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There’s a good reason that the Clippers coaching search is delivering an almost daily stream of updates. If Chris Paul re-signs in free agency as expected, it’s by far the team closest to championship contention of any that are currently in need of a new head coach.

Former Suns coach Alvin Gentry is the latest candidate believed to be on L.A.’s list, joining the likes of Nate McMillan and Byron Scott as experienced leaders that the Clippers will target once the interview process formally begins.

Before the team gets to meeting with the reasonably available, however, it’s expected that it will explore options that are more of a longshot first.

From Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

Prior to fully opening their search, however, the Clippers are said to be “going for big names first,” according to a person with knowledge of their plan. Those include Jeff and Stan Van Gundy, Pacers assistant Brian Shaw and Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, the person said.

It’s unclear how Brian Shaw made it to the “big names” list, considering he doesn’t have any prior head coaching experience, although he has been on the staff of some elite teams. (And maybe it’s just me, but yelling ‘ball don’t lie’ at a referee doesn’t exactly make you look like a poised leader ready for the responsibilities of the job.)

Shaw and the Pacers have also made it known that he won’t be pursuing any coaching opportunities while Indiana is still playing in the postseason.

Stan Van Gundy has said that he doesn’t plan to return to coaching anywhere next season, and Jeff Van Gundy hasn’t commented on any coaching opportunities since his name surfaced in relation to the Brooklyn Nets job earlier in the year. Hollins will be coveted by many teams, but just because he’s not currently under contract in Memphis for next season doesn’t mean that he’s in a hurry to try his luck somewhere else.

It’s a nice list to assemble, and you can’t blame the Clippers for exhausting all options. But it’s more than likely the team will be looking at experienced guys like Scott, Gentry, and McMillan, all of whom appear to be eager to get back to coaching next 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.

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?