Warriors' Don Nelson: Reggie Williams has a gift


Williams_Game.jpgNo team is having the success with D-League call ups that the Golden State Warriors are. Guys who were playing in Sioux Falls just a couple months ago are leading Don Nelson toward setting the NBA record for most coaching wins in a career.

When things started to tighten up late Sunday night (a lead dropping into the single digits) against the Clippers, the Warriors put the ball in the hands of Reggie Williams. Not a first round draft pick, not even a second round guy, but someone who 15 games ago no Warriors fan had heard of. A D-League guy. A guy who dropped 25, hit key shots and got the Warriors a win Sunday.

“I think he has a gift,” Warriors coach Don Nelson said of Williams. “He doesn’t even know how big a gift he has because we’ve just dusted off the surface. He’s a rare basketball player, as far as I can see. He’s able to have the mental capacity to understand the total game and who is open. He can read defenses and can score and he’s quick. He’s unselfish but he knows he’s a scorer. I think he’s a special player.”

It’s not just Williams. Anthony Tolliver is starting at center for Golden State, he was a call up. Chris Hunter got 20 key minutes off the bench, he was a call up. Backup point guard C.J. Watson was a D-Leaguer.

“I’m so proud of the D-League guys as they continually play well and we’re finding ways within their gifts and their game how to use them, to make the most of it,” Nelson said.

It begs the question — is it the Warriors system, or their scouting? Matt Moore asked this at FanHouse. The Spurs own a D-League team but don’t have prospects come up out of it. Lakers are the same way (yes, Jordan Farmar played a few games for the D-Fenders, but that was just a couple games to get him burn when he was stuck deep in the rotation, it was not about game development).

Williams said the system that Nelson runs matters. But it’s also the environment.

“(It’s the system) and the fact my teammates and the coaching staff put confidence in me,” Williams said. “They help me on the floor with plays, being in the right spot at the right time, so it’s just a lot of things into one.”

Meanwhile, Williams and his D-League colleagues are just having fun. After a key late three, Williams was yelling, smiling and pumping his fist.

“When you make a play and hit a big shot you should smile and laugh and enjoy what you’re doing,” Williams said. “It’s our job and we just wanted to be here, at this level, so we’re just enjoying it.”

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.