Report: Bulls not interested in trading Luol Deng for Andrew Bynum

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In the same report that had the Lakers in discussions with the Cavaliers about a possible trade of Pau Gasol for Andrew Bynum, there was talk that the Bulls may be interested in a similar salary dump by offering up Luol Deng to Cleveland in exchange for the suspended center.

The move from Chicago’s side wouldn’t be to engage in a reclamation project where Bynum is concerned, but instead it would be a move to cut around $20 million in salary and tax costs in what appears to be a lost Bulls season.

But like the Lakers, the Bulls organization is committed to winning over cost-cutting, so the rumored interest in a Deng for Bynum swap doesn’t appear to be real at this time.

From K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

That example should quell any lingering whispers of the Bulls trading Luol Deng forAndrew Bynum, whom the Cavaliers are shopping after suspending him for conduct detrimental to the team. The second half of Bynum’s $12.25 million salary can be waived before Jan. 7.

That means, if the Bulls were to trade Deng for Bynum and waive him, they could save roughly $20 million in salary and tax payments. That isn’t happening, according to sources.

The example noted in the story goes back to last season, when Chicago had offers to take Rip Hamilton off its hands in exchange for a first round draft pick, which would have accomplished the same goal of getting the Bulls below the luxury tax line.

Chicago hopes to re-sign Deng as a free agent this summer, but would entertain offers of a rotation player and a pick in exchange for his services. For now, though, the Bulls aren’t interested in giving up any part of their future just to save a few (million) dollars.

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?