Pau Gasol’s night at “The Lion King” almost ruined by false trade rumor

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There were a whole lot of Andrew Bynum for Pau Gasol trade rumors out there last weekend, ones that never came to fruition because the Lakers wanted pieces to help them down the line (young players or picks) and the Cavaliers had no intention of giving those up because they already had the Luol Deng trade in their pocket.

Gasol has spent the past few seasons in the crosshairs of trade rumors and he’s not going to let that stop him from a good night out — Saturday night with the Lakers off he went to see “The Lion King.” (Which you should see, despite how you would think it’s a Disney kids movie and it is going to suck, it transfers very well to the stage as a big production musical.) Gasol was having a good time out on the town with his family…

Then during intermission Gasol made the mistake of checking his phone.

Saturday night the Lakers’ radio station in Los Angeles tweeted out that the deal was done and Gasol was headed to Cleveland. That was quickly shot down by other reporters and it was retracted by the station but Gasol saw it, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

“I checked my Twitter at intermission and I see that it’s almost official,” Gasol said Tuesday after the Lakers’ 110-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. “I was getting all these messages, ‘Farewell, Pau. Thanks for all your services,’ all that stuff.

“It was a really good musical. I enjoyed it. I brought my parents and my little brother. It was a nice family time. But that kind of affected a little bit, the rest of the show.”

Asked, jokingly, whether it stopped him from enjoying the musical’s famous song “Hakuna Matata,” which means “no worries” in Swahili, Gasol laughed and said, “Yeah, that would’ve been a good way to go. But that’s how I approach things anyway, most of the time.”

Gasol, with his easy-going and even demeanor (that sometimes frustrates Kobe Bryant and draws the ire of some shortsighted Lakers fans) probably could handle this better than everyone.

But that would suck. Sometimes as we try to come up with trades we all can forget these players are people with family and friends who we are trying to uproot. It’s part of the life and they are well compensated for it, but still I think we can all agree that moving sucks. Having to do it on short notice sucks more.

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.