Deron Williams: Brooklyn Nets’ season ‘a nightmare’

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When he traded Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge explained how he got enough assets to make the deal worthwhile to Boston. Ainge, via Mike Petraglia of WEEI:

“Brooklyn showed a great deal of interest in putting the ‘Dream Team’ together, with expense not [a factor], at any cost it seemed like,” Ainge told reporters

The Nets got the “any cost” part right, assembling a team with a historically high payroll.

But Dream Team? Not even close.

Deron Williams, via Mike Mazzeo for ESPNNewYork.com:

It’s like a nightmare,” Williams said after the Nets were blown out on Christmas 95-78 by the Chicago Bulls Wednesday afternoon at Barclays Center.

“The way the injuries have been and the things we talk about every day: the lack of energy, the lack of effort. I didn’t see that being a problem when we put this team together.”

A 95-78 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, Brooklyn’s fourth straight defeat, dropped the Nets to 9-19.

Williams might not have expected them, but he understands the problems now. There have been injuries, the biggest being Brook Lopez’s season ender. And there has been talk about lack of energy and effort, most of it by first-year coach Jason Kidd, who remains in over his head.

The worst part? There’s no sign of waking from this bad dream anytime soon.

The Nets are already capped out for the next couple seasons. Their old roster leaves little room for internal improvement. And they’ve traded key draft picks to assemble this team.

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A rare chance for salvation comes with their next game, Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks, one of the few teams worse than Brooklyn. But even that would likely be a temporary reprieve. The Nets’ following three games: at Indiana, at San Antonio, at Oklahoma City.

Brooklyn isn’t done. The Eastern Conference is too weak to knock them from the playoff race this early. But when beating Milwaukee stands to mean so much to a team – and that result going in the Nets’ favor is certainly not a given – yeah, I’d agree with Williams.

Hawks sign two-way Tyler Cavanaugh to standard contract

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ATLANTA (AP) — Rookie forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who originally came to Atlanta on a two-way contract, has signed a multi-year deal with the Hawks.

Cavanaugh has averaged 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19 games, including one start, since signing the two-way contract on Nov. 5.

Cavanaugh, from Syracuse, New York, played two seasons at Wake Forest before transferring to George Washington, where he averaged 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds last season. He was selected the National Invitation Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2016 after leading the Colonials to the NIT title.

 

Carlos Boozer announces retirement

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Carlos Boozer went from being known as a gritty second-rounder to an overpaid defensive liability.

In some ways, that’s the ultimate success story.

Now, after playing last season in China, he’s walking away.

Boozer on ESPN:

I’m officially retired.

The Cavaliers drafted Boozer with the No. 35 pick in the 2002. After he spent a couple productive seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs declined his cheap team option to make him a restricted free agent – with an agreement he’d re-sign at a reasonable rate if you ask them, with no handshake deal if you ask him.

Boozer bolted for the Jazz, who gave him a six-year, $68 million contract. He made a couple All-Star teams and helped Utah reach the conference finals.

Then, he went to Chicago on a five-year, $75 million contract after the Bulls struck out on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. The Derrick Rose-led Bulls never broke through, and Boozer was often the scapegoat.

Chicago amnestied him, and he spent his last NBA season with the Lakers three years ago.

Boozer was a pretty good player paid like a very good one, and that didn’t endear him. We mostly remember him for accidentally punching a referee below the belt:

Painting on hair:

And yelling “and one!” after nearly every shot.

For a while, it seemed the 36-year-old Boozer wanted to play another NBA season. But he finally could no longer find a front office eager to pay him.

It’s only fitting that he was denied that last “and one!”

Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis still not talking off court

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The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.

Jack Maloney of CBSSports.com:

When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”

I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?

Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.

Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.

Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)

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Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in a letter called “Dear Basketball,” which was made into a short film.

Now, on the day the Lakers retire his Nos. 8 and 24, you can watch it. It’s quite beautiful: