Deron Williams sounds ready to test free agent market

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Don’t pull out the “loyalty” card on Deron Williams.

Some Nets fans have tried it on twitter as a way to convince D-Will to stay in New Jersey — actually, make that Brooklyn — and not opt-out this summer. Williams will have none of it. He keeps saying his loyalty is to winning.

What Williams told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports follows what he has said all along — he is going to look at all his options this summer. And that loyalty in the NBA tends to be a one-way street — fans beg teams to dump unproductive players but want good players to be loyal to the organization.

“People get traded all the time,” Williams told Yahoo! Sports. “They don’t get backlash as an organization. If [players] leave, we are not loyal, we are ungrateful. People say stuff to me on Twitter. They already think I’m gone. They are out there bashing me, saying to me I’m a traitor.

“I didn’t ask to be here. I got traded. I didn’t come here being a free agent. This is the first time that I’m a free agent in my career.”

If the Nets had completed their plan and gotten Dwight Howard, Williams confirmed that he pretty much would be staying. But Howard will play next season (or at least up to the trade deadline) in Orlando and his future could go a lot of directions. Williams isn’t tying his future to Howard’s.

This summer pretty much comes down to Brooklyn and hope with a young roster vs. Dallas, which has a winning culture, Dirk Nowitzki and can offer him a max deal (but less than what the Nets can offer). Williams was born and raised in the Dallas area.

Right now Williams is saying it’s about winning (everyone says its about winning until the money is on the table). But more than most, he might mean it.

“I want to win. At the end of the day, I’m not getting any younger,” Williams said. “I’ll be 28 when I sign this next deal. I have to look for the best situation for me.”

Not sure what that will be for sure, but he sounds like a guy who will test the market for sure.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.

LeBron James beautifully pass-fakes, makes layup in transition (video)

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LeBron James is a treasure.

Shaquille O’Neal’s big toe is seriously jacked up (PHOTO)

shaq o'neal
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Remember how we we all freaked out when we saw pictures of LeBron James‘ feet back in 2013?

You probably didn’t want to be reminded that it existed, but it does. Still. And apparently jacked up feet is the consequence of a lifetime of playing professional basketball. Once can only assume it has something to do with tight shoes and constant, hard changes of direction in said tight shoes.

We got yet another vision of what basketball shoes can do to feet on Thursday when TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal showed off his, er, little piggies.

Much to the horror of the Internet in general, it was Shaq’s right big toe that took social media by storm. Mostly because it’s not even close to pointing in the right direction.

I’m going to show you what it looks like. Be forewarned, it might just be NSFL.

Via Twitter:

Oh. Oh … why?

Social media reacted appropriately and proportionately:

Shaq did have issues with that toe during the course of his career, and at one point it was so bad that he had to have surgery to remove bone spurs from the toe in 2002.

That still doesn’t explain why it’s all over your TV and the Internet, but here we are. I am sorry.