Derrick Rose reportedly worried that Bulls will choose rebuilding over championship contention

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Entering this season, the Bulls were mentioned in the same conversation with the Pacers and the defending champion Heat as legitimate title contenders in the East.

The season-ending injury to Derrick Rose obviously and immediately changed that perception.

Rose wants the team to stay intact with the talent it has in guys like Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Carlos Boozer, in order to be able to make a run once he’s healthy enough to return next season. But he knows that the existence of multiple variables might make that difficult, and Rose fears that when he is able to come back, he may be stuck returning to be a part of a rebuilding situation.

From Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News:

Rose has told several confidantes that he is worried that the Bulls will start to let the team hit the skids by allowing key players to leave via free agency, forcing him to go through a rebuilding program that he wants no part of.

“Derrick is worried that the Bulls are going to lose what they have,” said a league source. “He doesn’t want to go through rebuilding.”

Rose’s concern is a legitimate one.

Deng, for instance, is a long shot to be back considering that the Bulls weren’t interested in talking extension with the two-time All-Star who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. The team has said it hopes to re-sign him, but Deng will undoubtedly receive higher-dollar offers elsewhere.

Boozer has his faults, but has been a solid offensive performer for this Bulls team on a somewhat consistent basis. His contract may not be that desirable, but it expires following next season — and that’s if Chicago doesn’t choose to use the amnesty provision to rid themselves of Boozer’s contract (at least for a salary cap perspective) before then.

There’s uncertainty in the Bulls’ future, and Rose has a right to be unsettled. But the only thing he can do is once again focus on his rehab, and prepare himself as much as possible to return next season. The rest of it he has no say in, and will ultimately take care of itself.

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.