Raptors’ Lou Williams: ‘Staying in Toronto would be ideal for me’


The Raptors didn’t give up much at all to get Lou Williams in trade last summer, but that’s likely to change if they want to keep him on the roster beyond this season.

Williams won Sixth Man of the Year for averaging 15.5 points in 25.2 minutes per game as a reserve, and the timing couldn’t have been better for him personally, considering he’s in the final year of his deal and will hit the market as an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Teams are expected to get a little nuts with contracts in advance of next season, because even if they overpay for players now, those deals will look like bargains once the salary cap spikes in a big way over the next two seasons. Williams says he wants to remain in Toronto, but it’s unclear if the Raptors will offer enough to make it worth his while.

From Josh Lewenberg of

“[Staying in Toronto] would be ideal for me,” he said. “Just the culture that they’re building here, just the identity that this team and this town has, I really want to be a part of it. I look forward to it. I don’t want to say hopefully we get something done, I’m really positive that we will get something done. I don’t see why not, at this point. So I just look forward to the future here.”

Of course, a lot could change between now and July, when NBA free agency officially opens. It takes two to tango – the Raptors would have to be willing to pay up in order to keep Williams from moving south and with the salary cap set to skyrocket the following summer, the market figures to be an unpredictable one.

If another team believes Williams can provide value as a starter while playing heavier minutes per game, it may be willing to come with a high-dollar offer that scares Toronto away.

But Williams has been a reserve for essentially all 10 of his NBA seasons, and if that’s the role he’ll maintain, the Raptors should have no trouble extending an offer that’s to Williams’ liking, and one that’s in line with what he could earn by jumping ship to play somewhere else.

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Hawks’ Mike Budenholzer named 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year


The Hawks came out of nowhere to win 60 games during the regular season and finish as the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference.

As a reward for the accomplishment, Atlanta’s Mike Budenholzer was named Coach of the Year.

The race was fairly close, mainly because there was a go0d argument to be made for Steve Kerr winning it in his first season with the Warriors, for taking a good team and turning them into one that’s potentially historically great.

I’m not sure I agree with Kidd and Stevens finishing third and fourth respectively, mainly because of their team’s won-loss records. The Bucks finished 41-41, and the Celtics finished sub-.500 at 40-42 in the watered-down Eastern Conference.

Gregg Popovich gets overlooked because he’s been guiding the Spurs to at least 50 wins going on 16 straight seasons, and would have been a better choice for third; three of us placed Popovich there on our hypothetical ballots.

But this was a two-man race all along, and Budenholzer winning the award for what he did with this Hawks team was indeed well-deserved.

Full voting results can be viewed below, and if you’re just dying to know who, exactly, decided that Jeff Hornacek was worthy of a vote, a complete list of who voted for whom can be viewed here.

Coach, Team                                           1st                           2nd                      3rd                     Pts

Mike Budenholzer, Atlanta                         67                       58                       4                          513

Steve Kerr, Golden State                              56                       61                       8                          471

Jason Kidd, Milwaukee                                  1                          5                          37                       57

Brad Stevens, Boston                                     2                          4                          28                       50

Gregg Popovich, San Antonio                     3                          —                         23                       38

Kevin McHale, Houston                                 —                         —                         13                       13

Tom Thibodeau, Chicago                              1                          1                          2                          10

Quin Snyder, Utah                                           —                         1                          4                          7

David Blatt, Cleveland                                    —                         —                         3                          3

Doc Rivers, L.A. Clippers                                —                         —                         2                          2

Terry Stotts, Portland                                     —                         —                         2                          2             

Rick Carlisle, Dallas                                         —                         —                         1                          1

Dwane Casey, Toronto                                     —                         —                         1                          1

Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix                                   —                         —                         1                          1

Monty Williams, New Orleans                       —                         —                         1                          1

Jimmy Butler, mic’d up during Bulls’ Game 2 win over Bucks: ‘They can’t guard me’


The Bucks will be hard-pressed to win more than a game against the Bulls in their first round playoff matchup, because while Milwaukee struggles to score at times and doesn’t have one consistent go-to offensive option, Chicago has a bunch of them.

During a game where Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose combined to shoot a dismal 8-of-26 from the field, Butler took over, scoring 14 of his 31 points in the final period to drag his team to victory.

He was mic’d up for his performance, and can be seen telling his head coach, “They can’t guard me, man.”

On this night, Butler was absolutely right.

Bucks’ Zaza Pachulia ejected after two incidents with Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic, who left the game due to injury (VIDEO)


The Bucks were in desperation mode in Game 2 against the Bulls on Tuesday, perhaps realizing that their only shot to compete in the series is to muck things up.

After an early tussle that saw four players pick up technical fouls, Milwaukee’s Zaza Pachulia picked up two technicals of his own in a one-minute span late in the fourth quarter, both stemming from hits he delivered to Nikola Mirotic.

The first was an elbow to the back of the head on a rebound, while the second came after a scramble for a loose ball on the floor.

Mirotic left the game a short time later, and was said to be dealing with multiple injuries afterward.

From Nick Friedell of

The Bulls said Mirotic has a left quad strain and will be re-evaluated Tuesday morning. Mirotic also has a swollen left knee, and the fear in the locker room immediately after the 91-82 win over the Milwaukee Bucks was that he might have a concussion as well. …

While it’s unclear when Mirotic injured his knee, he did get caught under a big pile as he and Pachulia grappled on the floor. He was taken out of the game immediately after the scuffle and was looked at by Bulls trainer Jeff Tanaka on the bench. Mirotic headed to the locker room before the final buzzer to get ice and treatment.

“Hopefully it won’t be anything serious,” Bulls big man Pau Gasol said. “I think Zaza had a couple of bad plays, not basketball plays. He got penalized with technicals, but just got to protect players.”

Mirotic is an important part of what the Bulls do, so his status will be something to watch.

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The scene shifts to Milwaukee for Game 3 on Thursday.

[via SB Nation]

Hawks cruise to underwhelming Game 1 win over Nets


The Atlanta Hawks surprised everyone by posting 60 regular season wins, and finishing as the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference.

But after winning 40 of their first 48 games, Atlanta largely cruised in the second half of the season. And, without Thabo Sefolosha — who missed 23 games with a calf injury before being ruled out for the season with a leg fracture — the Hawks posted a record of just 17-13 in the 30 games he missed.

Facing a Brooklyn Nets team that needed the Pacers to lose on the final day of the regular season in order to sneak into the playoffs (with a sub-.500 record), Atlanta took Game 1 as expected. But it wasn’t as easy as it should have been, and that should be cause for concern .

The Hawks won by a final of 99-92, but allowed the Nets to creep back within contention far too often in this one to come away feeling at all satisfied.

Atlanta led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter, but saw the lead whittled down to just seven before the halftime intermission. Brooklyn closed to within three in the third, before the lead ballooned to 16 points once again.

It was a 14-point Hawks lead with under nine minutes to play, but Brooklyn had it down to just four with 1:33 to play, and made Atlanta work to the end to close the game out.

The Nets are not a good basketball team, even by the most objective of standards. When the Hawks were at their best, they moved the ball to create open looks for their shooters, just as they’ve been able to do all season long. Kyle Korver led all scorers with 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting, which included going 5-of-11 from three-point distance. That’s honestly unconscionable from a defensive standpoint, yet even with Atlanta’s fifth leading scorer getting loose to that extent, Brooklyn still managed to close the gap and make a game of it on multiple occasions.

The Nets don’t have the athleticism to stop the Hawks defensively, especially during the stretches when Atlanta expertly moves the ball as it had during the pinnacle of its regular season success. But the lack of a killer instinct the Hawks displayed in Game 1 could be telling, and if they can’t correct it in the first round of the playoffs against a substandard opponent, it doesn’t bode well for their chances in later rounds against elite teams like Cleveland or Chicago who seem to be peaking at just the right time.