Next season, Deron Williams will make a cool $16.4 million. The year after that he will make a cool $17.8 million to lead the Utah Jazz — if he picks up his player option.
Utah has been a frustrating place for Williams this season. They started out the season hot, as the cardiac kids winning all the close games. But that caught up with Utah. It has lost four in a row and the team has not been able to find a consistent footing all campaign, which led Williams to drop this line on David Aldridge of NBA.com:
“My contract’s up in two years. It’s a now or never situation. I don’t know what I’m going to do after this one.”
That is not quite a Carmelo Anthony level warning, more like a pre-warning that things are headed that direction. More Chris Paul telling the Hornets to get it together or he would push his way out.
Next season Williams could do what ‘Melo has done this year — tell the Jazz that he will opt out and will not re-sign in Utah. He’ll be low key if he does, but he is too big a star for something like that to stay low key. So could Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard has an early termination option on his deal. In an era where superstars are trying to combine and work some of that out themselves, there is a lot in play.
The warning should scare Utah to its core. This is a small market franchise that does not have the money to spend to build a Lakers-like team. They couldn’t keep Carlos Boozer last summer. They lost Kyle Korver and Wes Mathews. And while the roster has been rebuilt with some decent players — Al Jefferson, rookie Gordan Haywood — they are not the same.
What may be Utah’s one ace in the hole the new Collective Bargaining Agreement — nobody knows what it will look like, but there could be things that help Utah. The money for a max deal may be so much less than the $17.8 he is scheduled to make that he decides to stay for at least another year. Maybe there are franchise tags. Maybe a lot of things.
But right now, D-Will is not thrilled with his team and that could be the first steps in a long, painful march for the Jazz and its fans.
Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.
Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.
Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.
“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”
He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.
The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.
Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.
He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.
“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”
All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.
New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.
JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.
He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.
But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.
I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.
At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.
But not right now. He remains silent.
This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.
In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.