Report: Phil Jackson ‘leaning toward’ accepting offer to become Knicks president

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Phil Jackson was first offered a head coaching position with the Knicks this week, even though Mike Woodson is still (for reasons unknown) firmly in place.

Jackson declined that one, so New York upped the ante with a front office job offer, one that Jackson would reportedly be deciding on in the coming week.

No decision has yet been made, but the latest report has Jackson “leaning toward” accepting.

From ESPN.com:

Phil Jackson is leaning toward taking a front-office job with the New York Knicks, a source close to the team tells ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

Jackson’s role would be president of basketball operations, in complete control of all basketball-related matters, according to the source.

It is unclear whether the decision would include an agreement to coach the Knicks next season, the source said. A decision is expected sometime next week.

The part about having “complete control” over basketball decisions is likely what the hold-up is.

Knicks owner James Dolan has a long history of not letting smart basketball people do what’s best for the franchise — something that was pointed out by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News last week:

The other major stumbling block would be Jackson’s ability to work with Dolan, who has a history of being a meddling owner. Jackson would be handsomely compensated and will likely be promised full autonomy. Of course, the same was true of Donnie Walsh, an executive with more experience who was eventually forced out by Dolan after Dolan hijacked the Carmelo Anthony negotiations from Walsh.

New York is a market that needs a star player like Anthony in place for a variety of reasons, but the package of assets the team ended up shipping to Denver in exchange was insane, and only happened because Dolan intervened to make sure the deal took place.

That move (and others) have the Knicks short on draft picks for the next couple of seasons, with few assets that could bring back players in return that would help the team show immediate improvement. And of course, things are even more precarious at the moment with Anthony having the ability to bolt the franchise in free agency this summer.

That’s a lot for the 68-year-old Jackson to consider when weighing if New York is indeed the place where he wants to make his return to the NBA. But it sounds like he’s almost there.

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?