David Stern admits small flopping fines didn’t work, penalties may increase

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David Stern was selling it as a first step.

This season the NBA started publicly warning and making small fines against players who had the most egregious flops — it started with a warning then the fines started at $5,000 and went up with subsequent offenses. In the playoffs, all that changed was the warnings went away. The goal seemed to be to try and shame the players into compliance.

Didn’t work. NBA Commissioner David Stern admitted at his pre-finals press conference it didn’t work at that the penalties need to increase.

“It isn’t enough. It isn’t enough.,” Stern said. “You’re not going to cause somebody to stop it for $5,000 when the average player’s salary is 5.5 million. And anyone who thought that was going to happen was allowing hope to prevail over reason. But you take a step and you begin to see it.”

So will the NBA take the next step?

“Yes, I think we do,” Stern said. “I think we have the data. I don’t know if we have the stomach. And we’ll have to see what happens with the Competition Committee and the Board.”

It sounds like what he is saying is not only bigger fines, but also to expand the kind calls that are made. Last season only the most obvious were called out, that could change.

But what Stern really tried to do was sell this year’s flopping fines as the first step, not the expected solution to the problem.

“We knew that flopping was going to be far from perfect,” Stern said. “And we gather more attention because we were giving it more attention. But the point was to do it gently, look at all the flops, and there have been plenty, penalize the most egregious very gently. We could end that immediately if we decided to suspend players, but that might be a little bit draconian at the moment. And so it’s going to be up to the Board and the Competition Committee to decide how much they want to do.”

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?