Could Heat use amnesty on Joel Anthony or Mike Miller?

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The Miami Heat payroll for next season is set at about $87.3 million, a number that could move a little but not much (the Heat are not expected to use their taxpayer’s mid-level exception). The Heat likely will have the second or third highest payroll in the league.

Under the old luxury tax rules, the Heat would have owned about $16 million in tax money for a salary that high. However, under the new escalating tax rules that kick in for next season, that tax is going to jump to more like $33 million.

Which means Miami may look to trim costs a little by using their amnesty clause, suggests the Miami Herald.

The report mentions Mike Miller, who is owed $6.2 million, but because of the tax reductions taking him off the payroll would save closer to $17 million, reports the Herald (that is cap savings, Miller still gets paid by the Heat so his salary still is an expense). Miller played in 59 games for Miami and averaged just 4.2 points a game in the regular season, but he plays a role they need filled — he was on the court in all seven NBA Finals games for at least 15 minutes each and had some key moments in the Heat’s Game 6 win (he played almost 30 minutes that night). In theory just-drafted James Ennis could fill the Miller role of three-point shooting (and Ennis would bring better defense) but the rookie isn’t there yet.

The other, more logical move mentioned by the Herald is to amnesty Joel Anthony. He is only set to make $3.8 million but the cut would save $10 million in taxes. Anthony’s shot-blocking, defense first role was largely taken over by Chris Andersen by the end of the season, and the Heat brought the Birdman back. While Miami could use depth along the front line, what they need is real size to match up better with Indiana. Anthony would be less of a hit.

For the past few years we have been waiting for the Heat to amnesty a player, but the Heat have sat on their hands. We’ll see if this year is any different.

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?