Report: Pistons want to trade for Rajon Rondo, Rudy Gay

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The Pistons have two of the NBA’s most promising big men, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, and they’ve cleared more than $20 million in cap space this summer. They’re definitely in position to make a jump to the playoffs, which is what general manager Joe Dumars probably needs in the final season of his contract, if all goes well.

But the plan hit a snag when so many of the top available free agents ended up being power forwards and centers.

The Pistons are pursuing Andre Iguodala, but it sounds like it will be difficult to outbid the Nuggets. Josh Smith can play small forward, and he’s reportedly Detroit’s top target, but he’s a better power forward. Otherwise, the many of the best remaining free agents – Dwight Howard (not going to Detroit, anyway), Andrew Bynum and Paul Millsap – won’t work with Drummond and Monroe.

So, rather than overpay middling perimeter players in free agency, the Pistons might try to trade for a, in the eyes of some, more prestigious guard or small forward. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

the Pistons were among the first teams to reach out to the Celtics and express interest in acquiring Rondo, the All-Star point guard who is coming off an ACL injury, league sources told CBSSports.com. Having already made lucrative pitches to free agents Josh Smith and Andre Iguodala, Pistons president Joe Dumars also has registered interest in Raptors forward Rudy Gay, one source said.

The Pistons could use their cap room to take one the Celtics’ bad contracts (Gerald Wallace and maybe Courtney Lee), so Detroit would have to give up fewer positive assets for Rondo. Still, Monroe would likely have to be involved for Boston to have interest, though trading Monroe wouldn’t be as detrimental if the Pistons sign Smith. Of course, that’s also predicated on Danny Ainge changing from his public stance of keeping Rondo.

Gay himself has negative value, and that trade just sounds like Dumars asking for trouble. The Pistons reportedly tried to get Gay before Toronto did, but with Masai Ujiri now running the Raptors, Gay could be on the block again. Gay might become the go-to wing scorer the Pistons think they need, but he’s inefficient and wildly overpaid.

There are no perfect options for Detroit this summer, and a more patient route would probably be ideal. But with Dumars’ job on the line, I doubt that happens.

The Pistons are clearly trying to upgrade their talent this offseason, and, for better or worse, Rondo and/or Gay would accomplish that.

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?