Kurt Helin

SACRAMENTO, CA - NOVEMBER 15: John "Hot Rod" Williams #18 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the Sacramento Kings on November 15, 1992 at Arco Arena in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1992 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Former NBA player Hot Rod Williams on life support battling cancer

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Screw you, cancer.

John ‘Hot Rod’ Williams, the 13-year NBA center who spent most of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers (he played in Phoenix and Dallas as well), is on life support battling cancer, reports Terry Pluto at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Williams is in the intensive care unit of a hospital in the Baton Rouge area. He grew up in nearby Sorrento, La. He always went home after the NBA season…

(His agent Mark) Bartelstein said they thought the health problems started for Williams about six months ago with prostate cancer. But then it spread and spread. He’s 53 and fighting for his life.

“His family is with him,” said Bartelstein, his voice breaking. “It’s a very serious situation.”

Hot Rod was a part of the best Cleveland teams, at least prior to the current edition, the ones that pushed Jordan’s Bulls in the East and featured Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Craig Ehlo, and others. Williams averaged 11 points and 6.8 rebounds a game over his career, but he was best known as a shot-blocking defender coming off the bench for those Cavaliers teams. He averaged 1.6 blocks a game in his career.

Williams had a fascinating career, one that started in the minor leagues of the day while he went through a point-shaving trial from his days at Tulane. He was fully acquitted of those charges and went on to make a name for himself in the NBA. He also got a seven-year, $26.5 million contract in 1990, a deal that was front-loaded with $5 million in the first year, making him the highest paid NBA player. It was the outrageous contract of the day, and pundits flipped out. Williams just kept right on being a family man and doing his thing on the court.

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

Nets’ rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson out 8-10 weeks after ankle surgery

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If you’re looking for a silver lining on this, at least it’s an injury he can bounce back from, and even return to play later this season.

Brooklyn most-promising player — 20-year-old rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson — will be out 8-10 weeks following right ankle surgery to repair a fracture, the team announced.

“Rondae had surgery this morning to repair a fracture of the posterior talus in his right ankle,” surgeon Dr. Martin O’Malley said in a statement released by the team. “Two screws were inserted to repair the fracture. There was no other structural damage, and he is expected to make a complete recovery, with a timetable of his return to the court estimated at 8-10 weeks.”

The fluke injury occurred during practice December 5.

Hollis-Jefferson had started 14 games for the Nets, and he played impressive defense while scoring 5.2 points and grabbing 6.1 rebounds a game. The real sign of his impact — the Nets were 8.3 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court than off it. This is going to be a setback for the Nets, although they did pick up a win over the Rockets on Tuesday.

The only people “happy” with this injury may be Celtics fans because their team owns Brooklyn’s unprotected 2016 first-round pick.

Report: LeBron’s lifetime Nike deal worth “significantly more than $500 million”

LeBron James
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If you’re wondering why Nike would do a lifetime deal with LeBron James — the first of its kind for the company — you just need to take a look at the shoes out on the market. Retro Air Jordan’s are re-released all the time. Nike re-released Penny Hardaway’s shoes. You can be sure that once Kobe Bryant walks away the Kobe retros will start rolling out. With LeBron already having 13 signature shoes — and there are more to come — selling an estimated $400 million this year, there is a lot of time for retro LeBrons to sell.

But how much is all of that worth?
Sam Amick of the USA Today got a rough dollar amount on the lifetime shoe deal, and it’s huge — more than $500 million.

According to a person with knowledge of the situation, James’ lifetime shoe deal that was revealed on Monday is worth significantly more than the $500 million that has been speculated in some media reports and — at the current rate of sales — is also worth more than $30 million on an annual basis. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the financial terms.

That’s a lot of dough, but not out of line with the market. LeBron sells more shoes worldwide than any active player, and Kevin Durant just got a $300 million deal from Nike to keep him. Adidas just gave James Harden a $200 million deal.

For LeBron, it fits with his strategy of building a global brand. Of course, what really helps that brand is bringing a title to Cleveland.

Nets GM Billy King said Lionel Hollins not on hot seat

Lionel Hollins
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The Brooklyn Nets are bad. We knew they were going to be bad, they have no quality point guard play and holes throughout their roster. They don’t have great defenders.

Is this the coach’s fault? The answer to that question is often irrelevant, they get the blame.

Rumors have been swirling around the five boroughs (and beyond) that Nets coach Lionel Hollis is on the hot seat with the Nets at 6-15 and with a bottom five offense. Tuesday Nets’ GM Billy King said that is not the case, speaking with the YES Network before the Net’s tip-off (and win) against Houston. Here is what he said, via The Bergen Record.

King also pointedly denied a report from a Russian publication which said that the Nets had already decided to move on from Hollins, and were just holding onto him until they could find a replacement.

“It’s funny because I think the report said it was management,” King said. “And I’m management so there was no truth to that. Lionel and I are working hard every day. We’re discussing possibilities, things we can do on the court, off the court. I’ve talked to ownership and right now, Lionel is our coach and we’re working to try to turn this around.”

If the Nets decide to clean house, it likely will come this summer — and it could include King moving on, even though all he did was follow ownership’s orders on team building. As for the short term, what coach would want to walk into this Nets’ mess mid-season? How much could anyone turn this team around? If the Nets are going to get a new coach, in season or this summer, they need to ask themselves who they have got that’s better than Hollins? And what kind of team do they want to build?

King also said trades were possible.

“We’re going to explore options out there and look and see if there’s other players if we need to make a deal to bring guys in,” King said on the YES Network pregame show. “But we’re going to give this group a chance until we can find another option.”

There likely will be no trades in the NBA before Dec. 15, when players signed this summer can be moved. Outside of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (who is out a couple of months following surgery) everyone on the Brooklyn roster can be had. Guys such as Thaddeus Young will have teams at least making a call. The Nets are only going to be able to build via free agency and trades since they gave away all their picks. So expect rumors, but I’m not sure the Nets will get the value in return they are hoping to find.

Five Takeaways from NBA Tuesday: Warriors train keeps on rollin’

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What is a stranger story: The current state of the presidential race (with 11 months to go) or the man in Florida arrested for driving 110 mph while naked with three women in the car?  One is more serious, but weirder? It’s a toss up. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know out of the NBA from Tuesday night.

1) Another hurdle cleared, the Warriors’ machine keeps right on rolling. I feel like I’ve run out of new, positive things to say about Golden State — they faced another test on Tuesday night and handed a good Pacers team their heads. The game was all but over in the first quarter when the Warriors went on a 22-0 run. But while I’ve run out of words I haven’t grown weary of them — the Warriors remain a joy to watch play the game. They move the ball and move without the ball, they are smart and unselfish, and they defend. They play the game the way coaches around the globe try to teach it. Stephen Curry is the best player on the planet right now. We should savor all of that. Teams like this on runs like this do not come around often.

2) Klay Thompson was brilliant, then rolled his ankle and may miss time. Tuesday night was Klay Thompson’s turn to go off — he hit 10 three pointers, had 39 points overall, and was basically within range when he crossed the White River. It would have been his best night of the season, until he (and Curry and Draymond Green) had to re-enter the game in the fourth quarter because the bench couldn’t hold enough of the 28-point lead it was given. In the final minute of the game he went up and then came down on Shaun Livingston‘s ankle, rolling his own. Thompson had a noticeable limp after the game, but X-rays were negative, and he said he hoped to be ready to go against Boston on Friday

3) Rajon Rondo is a magician with the ball. Rondo had been putting up wild passing highlights lately but this move on Trey Burke is going to get shown in highlight clips for a while now. (By the way, the Kings went on to beat the Rudy Gobert-less Jazz 114-106,

4) Damian Lillard and LeBron James put on a show, but the Cavaliers came out on top. In the first half  it looked like the Cavaliers, losers of three straight coming in, could be in trouble again. Lillard dropped 12 first-quarter points (he had 33 for the game) and Portland led by 18 at one point. But in the third quarter Kevin Love sparked an 18-5 Cavaliers run that made it a game. In the fourth Lillard had another dozen points but he couldn’t match LeBron’s 14 (33 for the game) and the Cavaliers got the 105-100 win. But Lillard and LeBron put on a show.

5) Houston blows chance to get to .500 with loss to Brooklyn Nets. This is the part of the schedule where the Rockets are supposed to get right, a couple of weeks of games against sub. 500 team. The Rockets had the chance to get level on Tuesday night but found the Brooklyn Nets the better team (again, the Nets sweep the season series). Brooklyn’s 105-100 win came on a night when James Harden was just 2-of-9 shooting for 10 points, plus he had seven turnovers. Houston turned the ball over one in five trips down the court as a team. Trevor Ariza suffered a bruised back after a first quarter fall and never returned. The Rockets’ super-small lineup in the fourth helped cut the lead down, but the Rockets could not get over the hump. The Rockets didn’t look like a .500 team on Tuesday, and so they are not.