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 hosting Nets players-only workouts


The Brooklyn Nets have a lot of bonding to do — and fast.

They have a veteran team that can win big if a lot of things go right for them — one of those keys is they need to bond as a unit. This isn’t the Rockets, which can take a year to have their stars figure out how to play together, the Nets have a window of one, two seasons tops. Paul Pierce’s deal is up after this season, Kevin Garnett, Andrei Kirilenko Jason Terry and a few other guys are done in two seasons (plus at that time Brook Lopez can opt out as well). Time is short.

So to help speed the process along, Deron Williams has been hosting players only workouts for the Nets in Los Angeles, reports Stephan Bondy at the New York Daily News.

Williams organized players-only workouts this week in California, with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in attendance. Only five of Brooklyn’s 15 players are unable to attend the workouts that started Sunday and run until Friday.

The entire starting lineup, including Brook Lopez (who only recently shed his walking boot following foot surgery), is expected in California….

Andray Blatche, Reggie Evans, Toko Shengelia, Mirza Teletovic and Andrei Kirilenko cannot attend for various reasons.

Will it have much of an impact? Who knows, but it can’t hurt.

What this really shows is the Nets are still Deron Williams’ team. You can add KG and PP and AK47 and anyone else, but D-Will is the man. And Williams is another key for this team — he has to return to his Utah level of play (the guy who could get mentioned in the same sentence with Chris Paul) if the Nets are going to be a serious threat in the East.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.

As expected, Jimmy Butler says no issue between him, Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler
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Is the Derrick Rose/Jimmy Butler relationship nothing but puppy dogs and rainbows? No. There will be sparks between two intense competitors.

Have those sparks started a fire Bulls fans should be concerned about? A report on Wednesday said the core problem was Butler doesn’t respect Rose’s work ethic, which provided some kindling for that spark to catch.

However, as you would expect, Butler said this was all much ado about nothing, that he and Rose are all good. Via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Spin this however you wish: Their relationship is fine and someone in the media is making this up; or their relationship has been rough, and this is all just leaking out now.

This is a Bulls team in a bit of a transition as Rose declines some and Butler has grown into a top-flight player. Clearly that dynamic has some people around the team — likely the people in one of one of the players’ camps doesn’t like the power struggle or where it leaves his buddy — talking out of school to the press.

But as Butler noted, winning cures all ills. If Chicago can get off to a fast start, nobody will be asking chemistry questions.

For now, however, tounges are wagging.