Stan Van Gundy fires back at Cavaliers owner after he says Pistons should remove ‘Detroit’ from their name

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Unless you’re a Pistons fan, the best part of having Stan Van Gundy back in the league as the team’s president of basketball operations and head coach is the unabashed way in which he gives his opinions.

Van Gundy fired back at Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who said in a recent interview that the Pistons should remove “Detroit” from their name because the team actually plays its home games in Auburn Hills.

“Detroit doesn’t have an NBA team, because they’re somewhere 30 miles north of here, right? They’re in Auburn Hills, right?” Gilbert said on “Mojo In The Morning” on 95.5 FM, via 6abc.com (and HoopsHype).

This aggression will not stand, man.

“Dan Gilbert has some selfish interests for saying what he said,” Van Gundy said on 105.1 FM in Detroit. “I think we know what those are. Finally I think he has enough to worry about with his own team than worrying about us.”

Van Gundy’s remarks about “selfish interests” may have to do with Gilbert having invested millions in downtown Detroit. Gilbert also has spoken to Pistons owner Tom Gores “four or five times at the owners meetings,” where he’s brought up the topic about a downtown move, according to The Detroit News. …

“Tom Gores has been involved in the city of Detroit, not just the surrounding area,” Van Gundy said. “There are teams all over the place that carry the name of the city but represent an entire area. Where we play isn’t that much relevance.”

The moral of this little back and forth is simple: Van Gundy has returned, so any slights — perceived or otherwise — will not go unnoticed, or be allowed to slip by without a biting response.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

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 Celtics 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. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s 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.