Report: Lakers plan to bring Nash, Marshall back; D’Antoni decision comes after season

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The Lakers are going to make changes this summer.

Maybe not the kind Kobe Bryant is hoping for — it’s a thin free agent market and Minnesota is not yet willing to trade Kevin Love — but there will be roster changes.

However, two guys will be back — Steve Nash and Kendall Marshall — according to Mike Bresnahan at the Los Angeles Times.

As for Mike D’Antoni, that’s going to be wait-and-see, according to the report.

So the team will decide fairly quickly after the April 16 regular-season finale — pay him to not coach the team, just like Mike Brown, or try to make it work next season….

For financial reasons, the Lakers currently plan to keep (Nash) next season, The Times has learned, eating the remainder of his contract ($9.7 million) in one swoop instead of waiving him and spreading the money out over three years…

They also plan to keep Marshall, the 13th selection in the 2012 draft, whom they signed as a free agent a little more than three months ago. He averages 8.9 assists, but his shooting accuracy has dropped every month: 57.1% in four December games, 43.5% in January, 39.8% in February and 33.7% in March.

The Nash and Marshall decisions make sense. In the case of Nash better to bite the bullet on his big salary in a season where the Lakers are not going to be contenders if even a playoff team. Plus, if a team is looking to trade a star player his salary can help make a deal possible.

In the case of Marshall, he is reverting to the form that saw him jettisoned from other teams — his shooting is down and he doesn’t defend well — but at a minimum salary they can see if he can regain form and capture that lightning in a bottle.

D’Antoni is another matter. The Lakers would have to pay him $4 million to go away and they start to look like a team that jettison’s coaches without a master plan. (Actually, that’s what they look like already.) There is something to be said for letting him coach out his contract and make a change in 2015, especially if next season the Lakers are not going to have a lot of talent on the roster.

Problem is, Kobe Bryant is a terrible fit for D’Antoni’s system and doesn’t want to play in it, according to multiple reports. At his age Kobe is more of a post and elbow player in half court sets, after all the miles on his legs and recent injuries he is not built for up-tempo basketball.

That is likely what dos D’Antoni in — for the next couple years the Lakers will sell Kobe to fans and sponsors as they retool the roster. They need him to be happy and engaged, so they will go get a coach that he approves of.

Then we’ll see how long that coach lasts.

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.