Report: Carmelo Anthony to choose New York; agent denies

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It was New York and the extra $30 million (plus trusting Phil Jackson) or Los Angeles and the Lakers brand and Kobe Bryant.

This isn’t official but it seems to be New York won out, as reported by Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.

A person close to Anthony told The News on Wednesday that barring a last minute change of heart Anthony will re-sign with the Knicks after “agonizing over this” for the past week.

“He is really torn because this is the biggest decision of his career. But he wants to get it done in New York. He told me he believes in Phil,”said the friend who was with Anthony before Anthony’s scheduled workout with Kevin Durant and Kevin Love in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Other sources have yet to confirm this — the teams have yet to be told anything and his agent is denying the report — this is based on one report, albeit from a well-connected reporter. If you’re a Lakers’ fan that can’t let the dream die go ahead and hold out hope. But brace for the worst.

In the end it was all about the money… although if he’s not happy in a couple of years he can force his way out, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

He adds that Anthony’s dream of teaming up with LeBron was never realistic — the numbers didn’t work out well anywhere with them both getting the max, plus they weren’t talking.

With Anthony in the fold Phil Jackson is said to be targeting Pau Gasol to come to New York and join him. Gasol has plenty of options with the Bulls, Spurs and Thunder having all made big pitches to him. Those teams can all offer more than Gasol, but he is also an urbane, Barcelona-raised person who is more likely to choose a big city over small.

The Houston Rockets, already had moved on from Anthony and have made a max offer to Chris Bosh, who was a better fit for them. They are all waiting on LeBron James to make his decision.

For the Lakers, it’s back to waiting. The plan all along has been to land a superstar that will take over as the face of the franchise after Kobe retires in a few years. While many Lakers fans had talked themselves into Anthony for that role, players such as Kevin Love or potentially in a couple of years Kevin Durant would be better fits. (It’s too early to speculate on if Durant will even leave Oklahoma City, but Love is on his way out of Minnesota one way or another and has ties to L.A.) The Lakers’ plan has always been to get the star then figure out the system, the opposite of the Knicks’ plan with Phil Jackson.

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.