Kurt Helin

Remembering John “Hot Rod” Williams (VIDEO)

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Former Cavalier John “Hot Rod” Williams lost his battle with cancer and passed away on Friday at the age of 53.

He had a good NBA career, playing on some strong Cavaliers teams in the 1990s, a guy who was a defensive specialist and was beloved by fans for his effort on the court. This is a video tribute to him put out by the NBA.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends in this difficult time.

Regrets? Sam Hinkie had a few, but then again, too few to mention

Sam Hinkie
Associated Press
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Sam Hinkie will be the first to admit he didn’t want the Sixers to be THIS bad. He made mistakes. He trusted the process, but he knew he needed a point guard to get Jahlil Okafor the rock in his preferred spots on the floor.He thought he had one in Kendall Marshall, but he has not been healthy until tonight (Friday) when he finally enters the lineup to help stabilize the backcourt.

This week Hinkie, the Sixers’ GM, had his legs cut out from under him by the hiring of Jerry Colangelo by owner Joshua Harris. Well, probably. We don’t know who has the hammer in that organization, but the smart money is on Colangelo having it or at the very least having a better chance of convincing Harris — the owner always has the ultimate hammer — to go with his ideas.

Does Hinkie have regrets about what led him to this moment? Small ones, yes. Ones that may have sealed his fate. But he did it his way — he doesn’t regret the process overall, he told Zach Lowe of ESPN. He knows he needs to get a franchise cornerstone and sees the draft as the way the Sixers could get that guy.

Translation: you need stars to win a title, and the best way to get a star over his entire prime is to draft him. “The most challenging part is to go from zero stars to one,” Hinkie says. “After the Clippers got Blake Griffin, Chris Paul is a possibility. After the Rockets had James Harden, Dwight Howard is a possibility. After the Cavaliers have Kyrie Irving, LeBron coming back is a possibility.”

Hinkie has few regrets about his moves, but concedes, again, that he could have spent more to acquire a couple of mid-career veteran free agents. “There have been deals where we were close, and we reached our limit, and they reached their limit,” Hinkie says. “Maybe our limit was too low. But we haven’t done anything big that I regret.”

Those limits in chasing veterans for the locker room and using cap space to overpay and chase guys on restricted free agent contracts are likely to changes coming to the Sixers under Colangelo. It’s an effort to provide stability and competence on the court. But don’t expect big changes — the Sixers should have three or four first-round picks this June, they are not going to ship those out to win 30 games this season. That would be foolish. Talent wins and the Sixers are in a better situation to get it now than they were a few years back.

Hinkie freely admits he could have played this safer but chose not to. That strategy may have cost him in the pecking order in the organization and still have been the smart moves long term — those ideas are not mutually exclusive.

There have been reports Hinkie would step down soon after this move by ownership, but as you would expect he denied that.

Hinkie has no plans to step down, and remains confident in his power. “Our owners made it very clear they want me leading us long-term,” Hinkie says. “Adding one more voice will make the conversation richer. Might it be challenging at times? I’m sure it will be. But making big decisions shouldn’t be easy — it shouldn’t be that you have an idea, and you get to execute it without anyone questioning it.”

The Sixers will take a safer route and win more games next season. If things turn around in the next few years and this core — led by coach Brett Brown — starts to look like a future contender

Klay Thompson out for Warriors game vs. Celtics Friday night

Klay Thompson
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Klay Thompson was comfortably on the bench, having gone there at the end of three quarters with the other Golden State starters as the team was up 28 against the Pacers Tuesday night. The Warriors were going to cruise to another comfortable win.

But the Pacers didn’t know it’s a damn show. They thought it was a damn fight. They battled back and made it close enough that Luke Walton had to send the starters back in to secure the victory. The potential danger with that came true — in the final minute of the game Klay Thompson leapt and came down on the foot of Shaun Livingston, and Thompson rolled his ankle. He is out Friday night against Boston.

Thompson had 39 points against Boston, is averaging 18.2 a game this season, and is a key defender for the Warriors.

On the fifth game of a road trip and without two starters, going against a strong defensive team, this is about as vulnerable as the Warriors get. Jeff Van Gundy predicted Boston would win.

They have a chance. I wouldn’t bet my hard-earned money on it, but they have a chance.

Rajon Rondo suspended for “derogatory and offensive term” to referee

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We’ve been talking at PBT about how well Rajon Rondo is playing this season — this is the best he has looked since Boston. He is averaging 12.6 points., 11 assists (he leads the league), and 6.9 rebounds a game.

The Sacramento Kings will be without that next Tuesday against the Rockets — Rondo has been suspended one game by the league for “directing a derogatory and offensive term towards a game official and not leaving the court in a timely manner upon his ejection” the league announced.

Rondo didn’t like a call in the Kings’ loss to the Celtics in Mexico City on Dec. 3, stared down referee Bill Kennedy, which earned him another technical. That got him tossed — and after that Rondo said enough “magical” words to earn an extra night off. You can see after he got ejected his DeMarcus Cousins and other teammates had to walk him away from the referee — and Rondo kept talking.

It took the NBA more than a week to reach this decision — the Kings have played four games since then. Odd that it took that long.

Is Boston the team to knock off Golden State?

Brad Stevens
Associated Press
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As the Golden State Warriors continue to pile up wins, they’re beginning to lose healthy bodies.

It’s uncertain whether Klay Thompson will play as the unbeaten Warriors attempt to reach another milestone Friday night against the Boston Celtics.

Golden State (23-0) matched the 2012-13 Miami Heat for the second-longest streak in NBA history with a 27th consecutive regular-season victory on Tuesday. Its 131-123 win at Indiana may have come with a cost, however, after Thompson rolled his right ankle in the latter stages.

The injury isn’t believed to be serious, but the Warriors could still hold Thompson out with the team playing consecutive nights. Golden State concludes a seven-game trip Saturday in Milwaukee.

Golden State has already withstood Harrison Barnes‘ six-game absence due to an ankle injury that will sideline him at least another week.

“One of the great things about this team is our guys are confident all the way down the line,” interim coach Luke Walton said. “We’ve seen that consistently with Brandon (Rush) and Ian (Clark) filling in for Harrison.”

Thompson would be tougher to replace, however, especially with the 2015 All-Star coming off a season-high 39 points on Tuesday. He’s shot 51.9 percent on 3-pointers, highlighted by a 10-for-16 effort against the Pacers, while averaging 25.4 points over his last five games.

“It was one of those nights where I got a lot of great looks,” Thompson said. “Going in I felt great. ‘I felt like I was due for a game like that.”

Backup guard Leandro Barbosa also is questionable with an illness that kept him out against Indiana, potentially leaving the Warriors further short-handed against a Celtics team that’s won four of five and may be able to match the defending NBA champs’ offensive prowess.

Boston (13-9) has averaged 108.0 points during the five-game surge and had eight players finish in double figures in Wednesday’s 105-100 win over Chicago. Among them was former Warrior David Lee, who tallied 12 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes after missing the previous two games with a bruised right heel.

Lee, traded by Golden State to the Celtics in July to clear salary cap space, averaged 16.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in five seasons with the Warriors.

Isaiah Thomas scored all 20 of his points in the second half in Boston’s fourth straight home win. The explosive point guard is one of four Celtics, along with Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk, averaging at least 14.8 points and shooting over 43 percent from 3-point range over the past four.

“Just knowing any given night you don’t know who’s going to be that guy, that’s the strength of this team,” Thomas said. “You can’t just focus in on one guy because we’ve got so many other guys who can put the ball in the basket and make plays.”

That depth has the Celtics believing they can match up with Golden State, which can extend the best road start in NBA history with a 14th consecutive win.

“They’re in the same league as us,” said center Jared Sullinger, who’s grabbed 36 rebounds during Boston’s two-game win streak. “They get paid on the first and 15th just like us.”

Golden State has won four straight in the series, with Thompson finishing with 31 points in a 114-111 home victory Jan. 25 and Stephen Curry scoring 37 in a 106-101 win at Boston on March 1.