Report: Rockets talking multiple trades for Asik, want impact player in return

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The Houston Rockets are not going to give Omer Asik away.

He clearly does not fit as the power forward next to Dwight Howard’s center — that pair was -18.1 per 48 minutes when on the court together. And from Asik’s perspective it’s understandable why the Turkish center who averaged a double-double and was a defensive anchor on a playoff team last season would want to move on to where he gets minutes. Even the Rockets understand that.

But once Asik again asked for a trade (through his intermediaries and back channels, for him to do it publicly would bring the wrath of Stern down on him), you knew the first offers that would come in would be lowballs.

So the Rockets and GM Daryl Morey making it clear they want value in return — they want an impact player, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

In an effort to unload disgruntled center Omer Asik, the Houston Rockets have engaged in trade talks with multiple teams and are demanding an impact player in return, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Rival executives say that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has been active in discussing possible deals for Asik, but his asking price has been too high so far. Morey has been willing to accommodate Asik’s summertime trade request, but so far has found little traction on possible deals.

Unless a team is willing to give the Rockets a frontline player who can help them win in the short-term, Morey is open to acquiring a largely unprotected first-round pick in the loaded 2014 NBA draft, sources said.

I think he’s more likely to get an impact player than a lottery pick this year.

Morey is setting the bar high, maybe too high for this time of the season, but the market will change. Morey will wait for it to come to him. Quality centers are in short supply around the league and Asik is that — he can bring a defensive presence, plenty of boards and some points to the right team. Morey may soften a little, too, but better to set the bar high to start.

While talks are ongoing, I would expect a deal later rather than sooner. The trade deadline is in February, not close to Thanksgiving.

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?