Brooklyn Nets tax bill could be $87 million for next season

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The largely free market loving, Republican owners of the NBA teams pushed hard in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement for something that you would think goes against their nature — an increased and very stiff tax structure that sets up a more socialist system. (They would argue the system is needed for the growth of the overall sport.)

But the tax penalty only works if an owner is afraid to pay it.

Brooklyn Nets own Mikhail Prokhorov laughs at it. Or at least isn’t going to blink writing a very large check.

With the addition of Alan Anderson on a minimum deal, the Nets will have a payroll of $102,211,009 next season (figures via Hoopsworld). The NBA’s salary cap is set at $58.7 million for next season, the luxury tax line is $71.7 million (meaning the new escalating taxes start at that figures). Marc Stein of ESPN did the math from there for TrueHoop:

Adding Anderson on a minimum deal nudges those figures to $30,463,009 (dollars over the tax line) … and a mind-numbing $87,199,293 (in taxes due)

So the signing of a player due to make just under $1 million next season will cost Brooklyn more than $4 million in additional taxes under the league’s much more punitive tax laws that go into effect this season.

The tax the Nets will pay will be based on their salary figures on the last day of the regular season, so it is possible for the Nets to make moves to lower that number.

But it doesn’t look like Mikhail Prokhorov wants to — he wants to win at any cost. So he will write a big check at the end of the season. What kind of winning he will get for that remains to be seen, but I don’t think it’s the title he is looking for.

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?