Grizzlies don’t renew Lionel Hollins’ contract

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UPDATE 10:16 pm: The Grizzlies have made this official with a statement from the team.

“After a thorough internal process, which included conversations with Lionel and his representatives, we decided as an organization to move in a different direction,” Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien said in a statement. “On behalf of the Grizzlies organization I would like to thank Lionel for his service and hard work in helping this organization throughout his years in Vancouver and Memphis.”

7:18 pm: Lionel Hollins said he remained hopeful he could remain the Grizzlies’ coach, but that has long seemed like a longshot. Now, it seems this sticky situation has finally reached its conclusion.

Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal:

Hollins had the most wins (twice as many as second-place Mike Fratello), the second-best winning percentage (behind Fratello) and every playoff victory in franchise history. Even if the Grizzlies think they’re better off without a coach who openly criticizes the use of analytics and questions management’s mid-season trade of Rudy Gay for Tayshaun Prince and Ed Davis, replacing Hollins won’t be easy.

But with apologies to the Clippers, who I’ll dock slightly because Chris Paul will be a free agent this offseason and isn’t 100 percent to re-sign, the Grizzlies might have the most desirable opening on the market.

Memphis reached the conference finals this year, and Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Prince are under contract for next season and only Randolph, with a player option following next season, can become a free agent before 2015. This is a stable team with a strong identity – though Hollins certainly played a role in establishing and maintaining it.

Then again, Grizzlies assistant Dave Joerger also helped mold this team, and they could promote him (he is the favorite to get the job). George Karl and Alvin Gentry are also reported candidates.

For Hollins, he won’t remain out of work long if he wants another job. The Nuggets, Clippers and Hawks Nets have all reportedly shown interest.

Both sides might end up better off in the long run, but it will take some careful maneuvering and a little luck. I do know the Grizzlies and Hollins found unprecedented success for both when they worked together.

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?