Deron Williams begins play with Besiktas in Turkey

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Despite many, many people’s predictions that Deron Williams would never play a minute for Besiktas, the Turkish team based in Istanbul, Williams in fact started his tenure with Besitkas this weekend. From NetsDaily on Saturday:

Deron Williams adventure began earlier than expected Saturday when his Besiktas Black Eagles beat perennial Euroleague power Montepaschi Siena, 93-91, in the annual Bormio Tournament in Italy.  Williams scored 14 points, grabbed 8 rebounds and handed out 6 assists in 18 minutes.

Williams wasnt intending to play.  He tweeted, “Went to the gym to watch the team play today! Shot around for a couple min and then decided to play and got a W ! #WhyNot” Later, he added, “Finally got a good night sleep! Going to my first practice. Played last night without knowing any plays.”

via D-Will Wins In Exhibition Debut …”Without Knowing Any Plays” – NetsDaily.

And then Sunday:

Deron Williams scored 21 points and handed out 5 assists as Besiktas was beaten, 76-67, by Spartak of St. Petersburg, Russia, Sunday but the big news was not the exhibition game, but the news D-Will tweeted right afterwards.

“Took a good fall in the game on my wrist and no pain after! #GoodSign.”

via D-Will Takes a Hit on Wrist, No Pain – NetsDaily.

So Deron’s not dropping insane lines, as some would have predicted without really understanding the European game, but he is healthy and productive. He’s also getting paid, presumably, as you’d assume Williams would not have played without some money up front.

Williams is the first All-Star to play a minute overseas during the lockout, but is unlikely to be the last. So it’s kind of a landmark. It’s also got to be reassuring for Nets fans that the wrist was strong enough to handle contact. Williams had wrist surgery at the end of last season, and this was his first full-contact game back, though he did play in an alumni game over the summer.

So there you go. Williams actually went through with it. Now can we end the lockout so he can come back to New Jersey before he moves to Brooklyn, assuming they re-sign him and he doesn’t go elsewhere in free agency?

I’m confused.

Former NBA player OJ Mayo to sign in China

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When the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association return to play, they’ll have a familiar face to NBA fans suiting up for them. Liaoning announced they are signing former NBA player O.J. Mayo to a contract for the remainder of this season.

Mayo has been out of the NBA since the end of the 2015-16 season. The scoring guard was banned from the NBA due to a violation of the league’s anti-drug policy. He was eligible for reinstatement at the start of the 2018-19 season.

Since being banned from the NBA, Mayo has signed to play with various clubs in Puerto Rico, Taiwan and with a team in China’s second division.

During his eight-year NBA career, Mayo played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks. The 32-year old guard holds a career average of 13.8 points per game on 43/37/82 shooting splits.

With Liaoning, Mayo may suit up alongside former NBA players Lance Stephenson and Brandon Bass. The club announced that Mayo will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, after which they expect him to back up Stephenson.

Neither Stephenson nor Bass have returned to China following the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s unclear when either player will return, as the CBA has delayed their return to play until May.

Alabama’s Herbert Jones declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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University of Alabama junior forward Herbert Jones announced via Instagram that he’s declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft:

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All Glory to God 🙏🏽

A post shared by Herb Jones 🛸 (@yung.ch0) on

Jones says he’s declaring while maintaining his eligibility.

In his third campaign with the Crimson Tide, Jones turned his best collegiate season. The six-foot-seven forward scored 7.9 points on 48.4% shooting. He also grabbed 6.4 rebounds per game. Jones was also one of Alabama’s best defensive players.

Alabama has also seen starting guard Kira Lewis and John Petty Jr. declare for the draft.

Lewis is expected to be a first-round pick, while Petty and Jones are considered to be late second-round talents.

Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji, DePaul’s Paul Reed declare for NBA draft

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Nobody knows when the NBA Draft is going to take place — like everything with the NBA calendar, it is up in the air — but for college players whose season has ended now is the time to declare and throw their hats in the ring.

Two possible draftees did that Saturday.

Arizona center Zeke Nnaji was one.

The 6’11” Nnaji averaged 16.1 points per game on 57 percent shooting, plus grabbed 8.6 rebounds a game his freshman season at Arizona. In a good sign, he shot 76% from the free throw line, meaning he should be able to space the floor and hit midrangers (and maybe someday threes). He brings a lot of energy to the court, but is considered raw still on both ends of the floor and not an elite defender.

Nnaji is a bubble first-round pick.

The other player coming out is DePaul forward Paul Reed.

A projected first-rounder is a generous description by Charania, Reed is seen more as a second-round pick (and without a Draft Combine or workouts with teams it will be difficult to move up). He’s a 6’9″ power forward who averaged 15.1 points and 10.7 rebounds a game this season. Reed shot the three well as a sophomore (40 percent) but regressed this past season. He’s athletic but needs to get stronger, and he needs to be able to fit into a role at the NBA level to last.

That said, he will likely get a chance somewhere to prove he belongs.

Knicks owner James Dolan tests positive for coronavirus

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The good news is he remains healthy and shows few symptoms.

Knicks owner James Dolan has tested positive for the coronavirus, the team has announced.

Dolan, 64, lives in New York, which has become the epicenter of COVID-19 cases in the United States. New York State alone has more than 52,000 cases and more than 700 deaths tied to the coronavirus.

Earlier in the day on Saturday, the Dolan Family Foundation announced it would donate $1 million to Madison Square Garden’s event staff who have not been able to work because the coronavirus has shut down events at MSG.

There have been 10 current NBA players and four members of team support staff that have tested positive for the coronavirus. Dolan is the first owner to test positive.

Our thoughts are with him and his family and hopefully he can stay healthy through this.