Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks

Lou Williams says he’s happy to be in Toronto where he’s wanted


Last season, Lou Williams was solid off the bench for the Hawks, but coming off an ACL surgery he wasn’t the attacking, aggressive Williams everyone remembers. He was taking a lot of threes (47 percent of his shots) and knocking down a decent 34 percent of them, but he struggled from the midrange and, as usual, wasn’t much good on the defensive end.

More than that, he said he didn’t really feel part of what Mike Budenholzer was building in Atlanta. Then during the playoffs he’d flip on the Raptors games from Toronto and see a crazed fan base and see something he wanted to be a part of.

Now he is — the Hawks moved the last year of his deal ($5.4 million) to Toronto this summer, and Williams told the Raptors Web site he is excited for a new start.

“I think one of the best benefits of it is being in a position where you feel wanted,” Williams said. “When they traded for me and had the conversation, they want me here. It wasn’t a money thing. It wasn’t just something to do. They felt they had a void they needed to fill coming off the bench and I’m excited to help. I feel wanted. I feel like I have a responsibility with this basketball team and that’s the best way I can operate.”

Williams will play behind the just re-signed Kyle Lowry. It often takes two years to really come back from a ACL surgery, which bodes well for him in Toronto this year. But he said he had to adjust his game.

“It changed the entire direction of my career when I got hurt,” he said. “I had to become a smarter player. I realized I wouldn’t be as fast as I once was. I couldn’t just rely on talent. I‘d have to work harder now. I had to prepare myself in a completely different way.”

Williams could be a boost to a Raptors team that is in that crowded second tier in the East with Washington, Brooklyn, Miami (maybe), Charlotte, Atlanta and maybe the Knicks. The Raptors could finish top four, have a playoff round at home and advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001 (when it was the Vince Carter and Antonio Davis show).

If Williams finds his attacking form again, the fans north of the border will love him.

PBT Extra bold prediction: Is this Andrew Wiggins’ breakout season?

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Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.

Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.

Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.

Derrick Rose being back for start of season in question

Fred Hoiberg, Derrick Rose
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The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.

The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).

So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.

The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.

“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.

“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”

Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)

Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.

And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.

Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.