Kyrie Irving not consulted on Mike Brown’s firing, says Cavaliers general manager David Griffin

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Kyrie Irving is the Cavaliers’ only All-Star since LeBron James, the unquestioned franchise player.

Irving can also become an unrestricted free agent as soon as 2016 (though it’s much more likely delayed until 2020) and has reportedly expressed a desire to leave Cleveland.

Even though Irving denies those reports, if I were running the Cavaliers, I’d make an effort to keep Irving happy. A big way to do that is giving him input into the coach he works with daily.

But Cleveland general manger David Griffin, speaking in a pointed tone, denied Irving played a part in Mike Brown’s firing.

“Any – any – insinuation that Kyrie Irving had anything to do with this decision is patently false,” Griffin said. “It’s unfair. He was not counseled on this decision, nor was he counseled on the previous coaching decision.”

If he wanted to save Brown’s job, Irving probably could have. Even if management didn’t want to hear from him, Irving already has the cache to endorse a coach and dare the team to go against his wishes – if he wanted Brown to stay.

Irving wants to play for a successful team, and Brown offered little evidence he could take Cleveland to the playoffs anytime soon. I certainly wouldn’t blame Irving for wanting a change.

And what would be so wrong with consulting your star player on his coach, anyway? Irving is more important to the franchise than the coach. Be up front with Irving and say you’re not necessarily going to follow his wishes, but seek his input.

Asked how Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert will affect the hiring of the next coach, Griffin said, “This will be a collaborative effort effort. I will not make any decision alone, but I will absolutely be leading this process.”

If Gilbert wants to give input, he should. It’s his team, after all. And Griffin’s response shows he’s not afraid to cede some of his power in the name of teamwork.

But Irving is important to this franchise, too. Considering Chris Grant’s midseason firing, maybe even more important than Griffin.

The idea that star players must remain subservient to the coaches and general managers is long outdated. Irving should be viewed as more of a collaborator with the next coach rather than an underling. So, Irving should have a voice – though not decision-making power – in picking his partner for building a winning team.

Griffin can have his principles about players staying their place. I’d rather have Irving on a third contract.

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?