Report: Andre Iguodala decides to opt out of final year of contract to enter free agency

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It has always been a distinct possibility that Nuggets forward Andre Iguodala would choose to opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent.

The offseason moves of the front office in Denver, which included firing Coach of the Year George Karl and parting ways with Executive of the Year Masi Ujiri, likely made his decision that much easier.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

Denver Nuggets forward Andre Iguodala has decided to opt out of the final year of his contract and enter free agency, Yahoo! Sports has learned.

Iguodala, 29, promises to be one of the most desired players on the summer market. His agent, Rob Pelinka, informed Denver CEO Josh Kroenke of the plan in a meeting on Thursday in Los Angeles.

“We are fully aware of Andre’s intentions and he’s well aware of how much we want him back,” Kroenke told Yahoo! Sports Friday afternoon. “Andre us a huge priority for our organization.”

Iguodala stated as recently as the end of March that this was the plan, and while he would let the playoffs have some influence over whether or not he’d play out the final year of a deal that would have paid him $15.9 million next season, it wouldn’t have been the most prudent move financially.

Even though his next contract will start at less than what he was slated to earn next season, signing a multi-year deal now guarantees Iguodala much more money in the future.

Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, he can sign a four-year deal with a new team, or get an extra year by choosing to stay with the Nuggets. Had he not chosen to opt out, Iguodala would only have been eligible for a three-year extension.

Iguodala will be coveted, but it’s a relatively crowded free agent class, especially if the big names decide to truly test the market. Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Josh Smith are among the guys Iguodala will be competing with for the dollars available under the salary cap.

It’ll be interesting to see what effect if any all of the recent changes in Denver have on the team’s ability to retain Iguodala, and whether or not the Nuggets will come up with the right amount of cash to retain his services.

Iguodala averaged 13 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game in Denver last season, but his athleticism and ability to defend on the wing are the assets that will have several teams interested in him beginning July 1.

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?