Corey Maggette, Sam Young try to earn last Spurs roster spot

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The San Antonio Spurs have 14 guaranteed contracts on their roster and they may go into the season with just that many.

But they can add a 15th guy. They have identified a need — a physical three who can play limited minutes off the bench in certain matchups as a backup to Kawhi Leonard — now they just have to find the guy.

Corey Maggette and Sam Young are in a training camp battle for that last roster spot. The San Antonio Express-News got Gregg Popovich to talk about it.

“They’re both big, strong people for the position,” Popovich said. “We want to see if that fits for us, to have another person there behind Kawhi. Marco (Belinelli) and Manu (Ginobili) can go there, but they’re a little bit slight for some of the teams we’re going to play. I don’t really want to put them in that position very often. If we’ve got another body we think will work well with the team, we might do that. That’s the primary reason we brought those guys in.”

With guaranteed contracts the norm, actual battles in training camp for a roster spot are a rarity in the NBA. (It’s why Hard Knocks for the NBA would never work, it lacks the drama of the NFL cut downs.)

We’ll see how this one plays out. Sam Young played a better role in Indiana last season than Maggette did in Detroit, but neither was very impressive at all. There also is the question of who fits best in the Spurs locker room culture.

Or, the Spurs may just cut them both. At least it is a training camp struggle to watch.

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?