If you take Deron Williams’ temperature on Jersey, bring something to keep warm

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Deron Williams is the future of the Nets. He’s the star that Mikhail Prokhorov has been searching for since he took over ownership of the team. Thwarted in the lottery for John Wall, thwarted in the biggest free agency period in history, thwarted in the pursuit of Melo, the Nets finally landed a superstar, and better yet, a superstar point guard, to build around. It was a slam dunk. Many said they got a better deal out of it than the Knicks got with Melo.

Just one problem. Williams is a free agent in 2012, and should he opt out and elect not to re-sign in free agency, the Nets would have traded a boatload of assets for a year and a half of great point guard play and a whole lot of embarrassment. But that’s not going to happen, right? The New York Daily News has an expansive feature on Williams that talks about a number of issues, from how to pronounce his name to his family to religion to his “disappointment” upon being traded to the Nets. He produces a lot of good noise about New Jersey, talking about how he’s excited for the future and happy about the direction of the organization. Of course, if you find me a player who’s willing to talk about how he’s not excited about the direction of the organization outside of Kevin Love, I’ll give you a shiny nickel. Then there’s this little gem on the first page:

The Nets are talking as if this is a foregone conclusion and they are marketing him as such. But Williams isn’t ready to commit to anything or to entertain a deal until he has a better feel for his new home.

“How can you commit to something you just got into? I just got here,” says Williams, who has missed the last five games with his wrist injury. “I haven’t even been here a month. How can I just say I’m going to stay here? That’ll be great because that’s what people want to hear, but I can’t say that.”

via People get Deron Williams’ name wrong all the time but the Nets say that’s all about to change.

The real issue here is that Williams is following the LeBron-Melo-Bosh-Wade playbook. Make it clear that re-signing is a distinct possibility, and push the idea that it’s only logical you’d explore free agency. This allows you to maneuver while ducking criticism. For a while.

The reality is that this quote is far more indicative of the reality of the situation:

“I’m going to need some help,” Williams says. “We’re going to need to get some other pieces.”

More of the same, “show me the star power” rhetoric that seems to shine through so many star athletes in the NBA these days. Never, “I want to win here.” Only “You’d better help me win here.” At least in Williams’ case he didn’t choose this situation.

Grizzlies beat slumping Pacers, who fall into tie for final playoff spot

AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Conley matched his career high with seven 3-pointers on his way to 36 points, helping the Memphis Grizzlies rout the Indiana Pacers 110-97 on Wednesday night.

Vince Carter had 21 points and eight rebounds, and Zach Randolph finished with 17 points as Memphis snapped a four-game losing streak. Conley went 13 for 21 from the field.

Paul George led the Pacers with 22 points, Aaron Brooks, who provided an early spark from outside the arc, had 18 points, and Thaddeus Young finished with 16.

Indiana lost for the fourth time in five games.

Memphis played without All-Star center Marc Gasol, who missed his third straight game with a left foot strain. But Conley helped the Grizzlies get off the fast start, and Pacers were never able to catch up.

Memphis led by as many as 22 in the second quarter and carried a 72-53 advantage into the break. Conley scored 22 points in the first half, and the Grizzlies went 10 for 17 from beyond the arc in the first two periods.

Brooks made four 3-pointers and scored 14 in the first half for Indiana.

The Grizzlies led 96-79 after three, and the sliding Pacers never threatened in the fourth.

Indiana (37-38) dropped into a tie with Miami for the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Both are two games behind Milwaukee and Atlanta.

The Heat, Bucks and Hawks all won Wednesday night.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Brooks made a 3-pointer in the first quarter to reach 800 for his career. … Indiana dropped to 0-8 in road games on the second night of a back-to-back.

Grizzlies: JaMychal Green was out with left shoulder soreness. That caused Memphis to use its 22nd different starting lineup this season. … Memphis scored 38 points in the first quarter, matching its highest point total for any quarter this season. … Memphis has made at least 10 3-pointers in 36 games. … In the third quarter, Carter passed Ray Allen (24,505) for 22nd in NBA history for career points scored. … Reserve guard Andrew Harrison left in the third quarter with a right ankle injury.

PACERS HOMECOMINGS

Pacers forward Thaddeus Young played high school basketball in Memphis and still lives there. Pacers guard Monta Ellis has a home in the Eads community east of Memphis.

HOME STRETCH

Memphis (41-34), which sits seventh in the Western Conference playoff race, has a beneficial schedule down the stretch. Of its seven remaining games, five are at home, and five are against teams with losing records.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Visit Toronto on Friday.

Grizzlies: Host the Dallas Mavericks on Friday.

Three Mavericks teammates restrain Devin Harris, who still gets ejected (video)

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Dallas guard Devin Harris was ejected from Wednesday night’s 121-118 loss to New Orleans after angrily protesting calls made by official Ben Taylor.

Harris was assessed two quick technical fouls by Taylor, the first after Harris protested Taylor’s decision to whistle him for a personal foul when he collided with Pelicans’ guard Jordan Crawford.

The impact with Crawford sent Harris crashing to the court, marking the second time in the period that Harris had gone down hard. The first time, no foul was called when a collision with Pelicans’ guard E'Twaun Moore left Harris flat on his back.

When Harris was assessed the first technical, he went into a tirade and had to be restrained by teammates as he advanced toward Taylor. That triggered his ejection.

Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon beats shot clock, Celtics with dagger (video)

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Who should win Rookie of the Year?

Joel Embiid has been, by far, the best rookie while on the court, but a season-ending injury will limit him to just 31 games. Malcolm Brogdon has been next best over the full course of the season. Dario Saric is making a heck of a finishing kick, and with a couple weeks left, he can still catch Brogdon.

But Brogdon got his own late signature moment in the Bucks’ 103-100 win over the Celtics tonight.

With the Bucks up one in the final seconds and the shot clock nearing expiration, Brogdon hit an off-balance jumper with 3.9 seconds left to produce the final margin.

Milwaukee’s win drops Boston (48-27) to second in the Eastern Conference, behind only the Cavaliers (47-26). The Bucks (39-36) keep pace with the Hawks in a tie for fifth.

Russell Westbrook scores most points ever in triple-double, 57

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Russell Westbrook led a double-digit comeback in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Been there done, that.

Westbrook hit a defining buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Been there done, that.

Westbrook posted a historic triple-double. Been there, done that.

All three in one game?

That’s a new level for Westbrook, who lifted the Thunder to a 114-106 win over the Magic tonight while posting an incredible stat line: 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

James Harden scored 53 in a triple-double just this season, and Westbrook has already one-upped that record.

This MVP race is one for the ages.