NBA London 2011 -  New Jersey Nets v Toronto Raptors

Deron Williams signs with new agent, Jeff Schwartz


It’s been a year of changes for Deron Williams. He had a baby girl, he got traded from the Jazz to the Nets, he had wrist surgery; it was a whirlwind year. And now another change has come. Williams has signed with a new agent, Jeff Schwartz. It’s almost as big of a deal for who he didn’t sign with as who he did.

Williams was rumored to be leaning towards Leon Rose. You know, that Leon Rose, part architect of The Decision, CAA representative, member of that shadowy collective that everyone hates that includes the Miami Big 3. Williams being under CAA threatened to resurrect nightmares of the 2010 free agency period with both Williams and Chris Paul under their belt.

Instead, Williams has chosen Schwartz, who already has a diverse and intriguing collection of clients, including Blake Griffin, Paul Pierce, Tyson Chandler, Lamar Odom, Kevin Love, Kemba Walker, and of course, Ricky Davis. But there’s one other star that raises an eyebrow in the selection of Schwartz: Jason Kidd. Kidd and Williams have grown tight through USA Basketball, where Kidd mentored Williams in tricks to become a veteran point guard. It’s also the third current or former Maverick in Schwartz’ stable.

After Game 4 of the Finals, a baseball-hat clad Deron Williams quietly slipped into the locker room while most of the media was preoccupied with the press conference room, and hugged and shook hands with various members of the Mavericks, spending the most time with Jason Kidd.

Now, before you go bonkers on how massively incomplete and rumor-monger-esque this seems, throttle down a bit. Williams is from Dallas, he lives in Dallas. Popping into a locker room to see an old friend during his Finals run is nothing of note. Not like he was hanging out with Cuban getting liquored up in advance of the 2012 free agency period a year away. Additionally, Schwartz also represents three current or former Timberwolves (Love, Al Jefferson, and Mike Beasley) and two Pistons (Chris Wilcox and Charlie Villanueva). And Williams sure isn’t winding up either one of those places. It’s just anecdotal information.

However, it is a coup for Schwartz, who will get the fun of soliciting offers in 2012 (presuming Williams opts out), with a great number of teams clearing space to make a run for him, including the team looking to sign him to an extension to avoid looking like complete idiots, the Nets.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.