Chris Paul elected as players’ union president

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The days of veteran players with nothing more than fringe roles on NBA rosters heading up the players’ union are over for now, because for the first time in over a decade, a legitimate All-Star with plenty of name recognition has been elected as president.

From Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul was elected NBPA president on Wednesday at the union’s summer meeting in Las Vegas, a person familiar with the vote told USA TODAY Sports.

Paul, who was previously an NBPA vice president, now is charged with putting the players’ union in the right direction after approximately 18 months of instability and turmoil.

Paul replaces Derek Fisher, whose tenure ends in a shroud of controversy that resulted in the February firing of Billy Hunter, the union’s longtime executive director, and lawsuits, including Hunter’s lawsuit against the NBPA and Fisher in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The report was confirmed by the National Basketball Players Association, who congratulated Paul publicly via Twitter.

This is a huge step in a positive direction for a union that essentially got trampled financially during the last lockout, and having a star like Paul representing the league’s players gives more weight to the position than has been in place in previous years.

Patrick Ewing was the last recognizable name to hold the presidency, and his term ended in 2001.

LeBron James was reportedly mulling a bid, but ultimately declined the position in a move that was completely expected. James will have his voice heard, however, as he and Paul are close off the court, and the two were very vocal in meetings leading up to and during the lockout to try to get union leadership to hold out for the best deal possible.

Roger Mason was said to be seeking the position leading up to Wednesday’s vote, but he’s still without a team for next season, and despite his involvement in union matters over the years making him qualified, it’s tough to compete with both the experience and the star power that Paul brings to the job. Mason will still have a role, however, and was elected as first vice president.

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 Cavaliers 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. Especially against a team going small — the Cavaliers start Kevin Love at center — Embiid should be fed down low.

Instead, look at his 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.

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.