Brooklyn Nets guard Williams reacts after Chicago Bulls were fouled late in fourth quarter of Game 7 of their NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinals basketball playoff series in New York

Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan open to working together again


Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan went 262-174 and won four playoff series in five-plus seasons together. Since their much-publicized split, Williams has gone 71-77 and won zero playoff series, and Sloan hasn’t coached in the NBA.

Williams obviously wants to return to winning more often than not, and Sloan sounds like he wants to return to the sideline. With Williams’ Nets in the market for a coach, could a reunion be in order?

Mike Mazzeo‏ of ESPN:

Deron Williams said he’d love to play for Sloan again, and believes he would bring the toughness out of them #Nets

Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest:

Nets General Manager Billy King has yet to reach out to the Hall-of-Fame coach. And if he did so, Sloan isn’t against the idea of coaching his former All-Star point guard.

“I’m open, I would listen,” Sloan told via phone. “I haven’t done the research on their roster, but I would definitely listen if they called.”

Let’s pause to remember how bad their relationship was just two years ago, when Sloan abruptly resigned as Jazz coach. Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

The increasingly contentious relationship between Sloan and Williams boiled over when they clashed at halftime of a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. The showdown between Sloan and Williams became so heated on Wednesday, at least two Jazz players feared that the coach and star could come to blows – even though the confrontation ended before reaching that point.

As both have probably learned, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Their history aside, Sloan would actually be an excellent choice to coach Williams and the Nets. Sloan probably isn’t looking for a lengthy rebuilding project, and the Nets have the talent to win playoff series right now. He could get help get them over the hump.

But both Sloan and Williams must know they’d face an enormity of media attention if the Nets hire Sloan, and the probing would continue at even the slightest hint of disharmony throughout the season. Maybe, though, dealing with annoyances like that are worth it in the end.

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.