Andrew Bynum has gained weight, not touched a ball in some time

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Let’s put it kindly — there is great skepticism around the league that Andrew Bynum can or will contribute much as an NBA player this season or ever again in the future. Yes, his knees that have been a chronic problem and kept him out all of last season. More than that, however, are questions about Bynum’s passion for the game or willingness to really work and fight through the injuries to bounce back. Former teammates of his are not sold.

That doesn’t mean the risk Cleveland took in signing him was a bad one — the $6 million guaranteed with incentives and the second season at a team option makes this a fair gamble. The upside is worth the risk.

I’m just saying Cavaliers fans should not get their hopes up.

Look at what Bynum’s agent David Lee told the Cleveland Plain Dealer about Bynum’s choice not to work out for teams during free agency.

“There was no reason to have him work out,” Lee said. “His skill level’s not in question, so there’s no reason to work out. The reality is he has not picked up the ball in some time and he has to get his weight down. He’s got to lose probably about 15 pounds, which is not a big deal. But to get on the floor you’ve got to reduce your weight, otherwise you risk injury.”

Lee said Bynum will be back for training camp. I wouldn’t bet the rent money on that. I wouldn’t bet the price of a can of warm Pabst Blue Ribbon on him being ready for camp.

This is a good gamble for the Cavaliers — Bynum when last healthy was an All-Star who averaged 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a game. If they get production anywhere near that, even half that, there is value.

Just don’t expect much.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this 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.