Kurt Helin

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets - Game Six

Deron Williams excited for fresh start in Dallas

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When he played in Utah, Deron Williams was mentioned in same breath with Chris Paul. By the time they got to this summer in Brooklyn, the Nets were willing to buy him out, to pay him to play elsewhere. They were excited that their chemistry would be better now.

D-Will is in Dallas now trying to show that when healthy he can still be one of the best point guards in the game. Mostly he’s just excited for the chance to rewrite the script, he told the Mavericks’ official Web site.

“Just getting started, man. A fresh start is what I’m most excited about,” Williams said Wednesday during an exclusive interview with Mavs.com while making an appearance at the organization’s fantasy camp. “You know, playing with this group of guys, I feel like we have a great group of guys here, and so (I’m looking forward to) just getting everybody healthy and getting on the court with them.”

Getting healthy will be key for Dallas, with both Wesley Matthews (Achilles) and Chandler Parsons (knee) coming off major injuries. Dallas has talent but questions about depth, rebounding, and how they fit all the pieces together.

Williams is not worked about his chemistry with Dirk Nowitzki.

“It’s going to be great. I mean, Dirk could play until he’s 50, man, the way he shoots the ball,” Williams explained. “He’s always going to be able to shoot the ball, and he does so much more. I’ve always had a lot of respect for his game and what he does and brings to the court, and so I’m definitely excited as a point guard to be able to play with someone of his caliber.

“I mean, I’m definitely excited about that. You know, there’s definitely a stability about this organization that’s definitely intriguing.”

On paper, Williams ability to play off the pick-and-roll plus knock down threes should work well for Rick Carlisle.

Well, that is if Carlisle can get along with him — Williams has clashed with Jerry Sloan, Jason Kidd, Lionel Hollins, basically every coach he has had. Carlisle is next in line. Plus there are the reports that Williams has been a drag in the locker room in Brooklyn. That is the new start Williams needs to get away from.

If everything comes together for Dallas, they are a dangerous team, and a lot of those “ifs” start with D-Will.

Doc Rivers says Paul Pierce chose Clippers over Celtics this summer

Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce reacts to a call by the officials in Boston
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Paul Pierce will chase one more ring this season with Clippers, ending his career near where he grew up, near the playgrounds and gyms where he learned the game. He brings Los Angeles a guy who knows what it’s like to climb the mountain, a guy who can play some stretch four, and a guy fearless in the big moments. The Clippers need all of that.

But he almost chose the Celtics over the Clippers.

That according to Doc Rivers, speaking to Jay King of MassLive.com.

“I think he wanted to go one of two places,” said Rivers. Standing inside the TD Garden, the Clippers head coach continued, “He wanted to come back here or he wanted to finish his career at home where he grew up, and I think it’s really cool for me that I can be a part of that.”

I’m not sure how seriously the Celtics were considered, but Pierce was thinking of how to cap off his Hall of Fame legacy. He will be remembered as a Celtic, that is where he spent the first 15 years of his career, that’s where he won a ring. He may come back and play some role in the organization someday. It’s easy to see the allure of that.

But the Celtics will be fighting for a playoff spot near the bottom of the East as they (hopefully) take the next steps in their rebuilding. The Clippers are a team with a legitimate chance to come out of the West and contend for a title.

I think he made the best decision for him. It doesn’t make him any less a Celtic.

Brandon Armstrong does Manu Ginobili impression — and Manu loves it

Detroit Pistons v San Antonio Spurs
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Brandon Armstrong, the master of NBA imitations (James Harden, Russell Westbrook, JaVale McGee and others) took on a new target:

Manu Ginobili.

And Ginobili loved it.

He’s not the first, Westbrook cracked up at his, too.

I can’t wait to see Armstrong try to do Shawn Marion’s jumper some day… oh wait, he’s done that.

It’s official: J.R. Smith re-signs with Cavaliers

J.R. Smith
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If J.R. Smith had opted in this summer, he would have made $6.5 million playing in Cleveland. He thought he could get more — he averaged 12.8 points per game after being traded to the Cavs last season, shot 39 percent from three, and played quality defense. Didn’t that merit a raise?

Wednesday Smith signed a new deal that will pay him $5 million this season, although it does give him a player option for the 2016-17 season. The Cavaliers announced it as official.

Smith didn’t have the leverage he thought he did. First, volume shooters such as himself have been going out of style around a league looking for efficiency at every turn. And Smith is a volume shooter. Then getting suspended for the first two games of the NBA Finals, followed by poor play and riding around on a Phunkee Duck when he did return didn’t help his cause.

Smith didn’t have other teams beating down his door, he wanted to stay in Cleveland, and that was going to mean a pay cut. He does have an option for next season, so he picks up a little security and makes more in the long run. But this couldn’t be what he imagined when it all started.

 

Brad Stevens hints he will explore taller, more traditional lineups

Brad Stevens
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Last season down the stretch, Boston went small more and more often, using Jae Crowder as a four. Small ball works (see the NBA champs) and the league is trending that way.

But Brad Stevens may have his Celtics working against the grain this season. Or at least he’s going to explore it.

With the additions of Amir Johnson and David Lee to go with Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk, Stevens has options. He told Jay King of MassLive.com that he’s going to experiment a little.

This is the smart move to make — you have to adjust your system to the players, not go Mike D’Antoni and try to jam square pegs into round holes. (He eventually adjusted some with the Lakers, but not until it was too late.)

Plus, going against the grain can often be successful.

Small ball works — if you have the right players to execute it. Golden State went small but thanks to Draymond Green their defense didn’t suffer. Miami’s defense was quite good with Bosh as a center when they were winning. But those two teams have elite talent, and teams that do it and don’t have the talent can be exposed.

Meanwhile, guys like Lee, Jared Sullinger, Zeller, Olynyk, and crew could feast on small lineups. Stevens is smart enough to figure out what works best.