Deron Williams has no fear about playing in Europe, says he’s going ‘for the experience’

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When word came out that Deron Williams was headed to Europe to play for Turkish team Besiktas in Istanbul, there was a flurry of questions that came out. Would he really pay for that little money? (Because apparently $200,000 a month is “little.”) What about being away from his family? (You mean like he is during the entire season with his family in Dallas?) What if he gets hurt? (This is the dumbest one. How many players have you seen sustain injuries in the NBA, and how many have you seen in a contract year? It’s different in the NBA? Tell that to David West.)

On Saturday, Williams talked to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, and answered some of the questions himself. Specifically, Williams answered questions about the injury issue:

“People say, ‘Oh, you’re going to get hurt,'” Williams said. “I can get hurt playing at (the University of San Diego) or wherever I’m at. I can get hurt walking down these steps. Of course, that’s a big part of it. But I also did my due diligence, researched insurance. I’ll be covered.”

via 2011 NBA lockout: Deron Williams of New Jersey Nets says more players could play overseas permanently – ESPN New York.

Williams having an insurance policy is huge. It covers his liability in such a situation. And yes, he could wind up getting injured, with team doctors who don’t know what they’re doing, and then having more and more surgeries as his career goes on. You know what we call that here? Playing for Portland.

Williams also made it clear that he wasn’t headed to Turkey for the money, but for what he calls “the experience.”

“It’s more about the experience. Experience and being able to compete and play basketball. I don’t want to sit around. That’s what the NBA wants us to do right now. They locked us out of our gyms, they locked us out of facilities. We got to go find somewhere on our own to go hoop, to put games together. I don’t have to do that. I’ve got a team. I’m going to go through organized practices. I’m going to be in game situations. So if the lockout is lifted, I’m going to be ready to play.”

via 2011 NBA lockout: Deron Williams of New Jersey Nets says more players could play overseas permanently – ESPN New York.

It’s quotes like these that make you wonder just how much the NBPA is behind orchestrating these deals. Because this sounds an awful lot like a pre-planned statement geared at skewering ownership from union reps. Regardless, it’s nice that Williams is taking this opportunity to see the world. And from every indication, Istanbul is really nice this time of year, and a sheer delight to enjoy.

I’m supposed to make a Utah joke here, but I’ll skip it today.

 

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.