Mo Williams says he’ll opt out of final year with Blazers to become a free agent

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Mo Williams was the most reliable player off the bench for the Blazers this season, and has a player option on his deal that would allow him to remain in Portland next season.

But Williams has played 11 NBA seasons, and knows he might be facing his last opportunity to secure a multi-year, guaranteed contract. For that reason, he’s planning on opting out of the final year of his deal with the Blazers to become an unrestricted free agent.

From Joe Freeman of The Oregonian:

Trail Blazers sixth man Mo Williams said he will opt out of the final year of his two-year contract with the Blazers and become a free agent this summer.

But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to return to Portland. …

“I’m going into my 12th year, so I’d love to get a contract,” Williams said. “This is, in my opinion, my last one. After that, I’ll be a guy that’s hanging on by the last string, getting my one-year deal in, trying to get as many of those as I can. So this is my last time to get a three-year deal. I’ve got three good years left in me.”

Williams wasn’t phenomenal, but he was certainly somewhere beyond serviceable. He averaged 9.7 points and 4.3 assists in 24.3 minutes per game, while logging the most assists by any backup player in the NBA last season.

The Blazers overachieved this year, but faced a perfect matchup in the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs before getting a strong dose of reality against the Spurs in what was essentially a five-game sweep.

Williams was a key piece of the team’s rotation, but Portland may be able to do better. And so might Williams in terms of a multi-year deal to play somewhere else.

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?