Deron Williams, Avery Johnson, Billy King

Nets GM Billy King takes trip to see locked-out Deron Williams play in Turkey

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This is one of those “We wish this wasn’t a story, but it’s probably going to be because the inmates are running the NBA asylum” kind of deals.

So you’re aware that the NBA’s got pretty strict rules about league personnel meeting with, cavorting with, hanging out with, or really being in the same place as NBA players. They told Mark Cuban he couldn’t be at Rucker. They have fined several coaches, owners, etc. So Billy King, the Nets’ GM, has been walking a fine line this weekend in order to avoid such a fine.

From Nets Daily:

Tweeting as if he were leaving bread crumbs across the face of Europe, Billy King arrived in Izmir Saturday afternoon for Deron Williams first away game in the Turkish League.

On Friday, he tweeted that he was on board a Turkish Airlines flight, then Saturday morning, he posted a picture of the Bosporus, that waterway separating Europe and Asia in Istanbul, before finally announcing that Izmir “is a beautiful city”.

Alas, just before the game between Besiktas and Pinar Karsiyaka SK was set to begin, the Nets GM had to tweet bad news: “2 mins to tip off someone breaks the backboard”. Kings image showed a good home crowd at the Izmir sports arena.

via King in Turkey to Watch Williams Who Goes for 24 and 10 in Best Game Yet – NetsDaily.

So King went all the way to Istanbul to watch a player he can’t tweet about, talk to, or have contact with. Props to King, though, for doing something which involves looking to a future when the NBA’s back. This probably puts his mind at ease about Williams’ wrist which had surgery this past summer, especially since Williams dropped 24 -10-4.

Oh, a good basketball line. I’d forgotten how cool those look. (/cries)

Anyway, King won’t be levied a fine, but he’d better lock it up. You know, lock it up.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.