Report: Deron Williams’ Nets struggles both physical and mental


When the Nets traded for Deron Williams from the Jazz in 2011, it seemed like a coup. Coming on the heels of the summer of 2010 and around the same time as Carmelo Anthony‘s trade to the Knicks, the then-New Jersey Nets were seen as making a splash of their own, landing a legitimate superstar as they were on the verge of a 2012 move to Brooklyn.

It didn’t work out that way: Williams re-signed in 2012, but he was never the player he was in Utah, dealing with ankle injuries and putting up disappointing numbers, and the Nets were never able to make it past the second round of the playoffs.

Now, a couple months after Williams’ buyout with the Nets and return home to Dallas, CBS’ Ken Berger has some insight into why things went so badly wrong for the Deron era in Brooklyn:

The massive expectations that came with the Nets’ historic payroll and luxury-tax payouts during the D-Will era didn’t help, either — nor did the Nets’ ever-spinning coaching carousel. Over five seasons in Newark and Brooklyn, including the end of the ’10-11 season following the trade, Williams played for four coaches: Avery Johnson, P.J. Carlesimo, Jason Kidd and Lionel Hollins. If Williams thought that he didn’t need coaching from the great Jerry Sloan, one can imagine how sideline instability may not have made for the best environment in his new home.

“The coaching rotating door really hurt him,” a person close to Williams said. “You had a different style offense and defense every year.”

Faced with a leadership vacuum, Williams retreated.

“Your point guard is your quarterback and your leader, and I don’t think he ever embraced that,” one of the people familiar with his Nets tenure said. “He was happier when the limelight was off him.”

Limelight or not, one factor that cannot be ignored in Williams’ swift decline is his health. At the height of his powers, Williams’ game was all about physical dominance, lateral quickness and straight-line speed to the basket. None of those things is possible without healthy legs.

It’s easy to see how this happened, considering where the rest of the league’s stars’ heads were at. LeBron James and Chris Bosh had both recently left their small-market teams for Miami; Amar’e Stoudemire left Phoenix for New York; Anthony had just forced a trade to the Knicks; and in the next 18 months, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard would both wind up in Los Angeles. If you’re an NBA superstar, it seemed like finding your way onto a big-market team was just what you were supposed to do eventually. Williams had been making some noise during the 2010-11 season about wanting to join Stoudemire and Anthony in New York, and the Jazz cut their losses and dealt him to Brooklyn for what turned out to be a pretty solid return. But not everybody is cut out to be the marquee guy in a big market; that isn’t an indictment of Williams, it’s just the reality that everybody’s personality is different and some people are more suited to that level of spotlight. He found that out the hard way.

He may have gone to another big market with the Mavericks this summer, but expectations are much lower in Dallas for him than they ever were in Brooklyn. Nobody thinks the Mavs are a title contender — they’re just hoping to be respectable for Dirk Nowitzki‘s final two years. If Williams can’t stay healthy, he’ll have company: Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons are both coming off major injuries as well. And if he does play well in his new home and has the Mavs pushing for a playoff spot, he will be able to consider the season a success.

It was never going to work out in Brooklyn. But that doesn’t mean Williams’ career is hopeless.

Bulls’ Lonzo Ball “nowhere near playing,” could miss entire season

New Orleans Pelicans v Chicago Bulls
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

“I’m trying to stay positive, keep my hopes up. I would love to play. I would never count that out.”

Lonzo Ball tried to put an optimistic face on his recovery from a second knee surgery, but he was realistic and put no timetable on a return.

Bulls coach Billy Donovan was more realistic, speaking Saturday before the Bulls took on the Magic. Via Julia Poe of the Chicago Tribune.

“He’s made some progress, but I’d be the first one to tell you he’s nowhere near playing,” Donovan said. “He’s just not. Because he’s not running on a consistent basis. When he can get to that place where he can do that consistently and be able to come back the next day and do it again, do it again and do it again — I think you’ll feel a little bit more optimistic.”

Could Ball be out for the entire season? Donovan again, via K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago:

“My guess would be – there’s not been a specifically set date – my guess would be I think we get through the All-Star Break, I think there would probably be everybody sitting down to talk about length and time of the season, how realistic is it for him to get back, if he could get back what would the minutes look like, is it not worth having him back just because it’s too much?’’ Donovan said. “I think everything, at least in my conversations with medical about him, have always been geared towards helping him get back to playing. Certainly once you get out of the All-Star Break, with the amount of time that’s left, basically you’re at the end of February. You have all of March and not even two weeks in April, so you start to get to that point where I think there will be some conversations of, ‘OK, if he’s still not close to playing, what’s the plan moving forward?’”

Ball has undergone multiple knee surgeries. The first was in January 2022 and the expectation at the time was he would return for the playoffs, but his knee didn’t respond well during rehab. That led to a second knee surgery, and recovery from that is going slowly as well. It leaves the Bulls in a tough spot, they miss his defense and his being a floor general on offense as they have struggled to a 23-26 record this season that sees them sitting as the No. 11 seed in the East.

Pelicans Trey Murphy III reportedly invited to participate in Dunk Contest


We knew three participants invited to the All-Star Saturday night Dunk Contest: G-League fan favorite Mac McClung, the Portland Trail Blazers Shaedon Sharpe and the Houston Rockets’ KJ Martin.

The fourth slot in that event will go to the Pelicans’ Trey Murphy, reports Andrew Lopez of ESPN.

No doubt Murphy can throw it down with the best of them.

The Dunk Contest will headline All-Star Saturday night, Feb. 18, from the Vivint Arena (soon to be the Delta Center again). The event will be broadcast on TNT.

The Dunk Contest is the Saturday night headline event, but it has fallen flat in recent years. Adding a G-League dunker and young, bouncy athletes such as Murphy, Martin and Sharpe could make this one entertaining. However, what fans really want to see — what made the Dunk Contest must-watch back in the day when Jordan, Kobe, and Vince Carter were doing it — is the stars. There will be no Ja Morant, no Zion Williamson, and no Anthony Edwards in this contest.

LeBron James NBA all-time scoring record tracker


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has held the NBA all-time scoring record at 38,387 points since he retired in 1989. It is one of the most iconic records in sports and one thought by many that would never be broken, but LeBron James is on the verge of breaking that scoring record and doing it at age 38. How many more points does LeBron need to take over the scoring record? When is it projected to happen? Let’s break down the latest numbers (this will be updated after every Lakers game until the record is set).

How many points does LeBron James need to set the scoring record?

Abdul-Jabbar career points: 38,387
LeBron career points: 38,271

Lakers’ upcoming schedule:

Jan. 30 at Nets
Jan. 31 at Knicks
Feb. 2 at Pacers
Feb. 4 at Pelicans
Feb. 7 vs. Thunder
Feb. 9 vs. Bucks

When is LeBron projected to set the all-time scoring record:

LeBron is averaging 30.2 points per game this season, at that pace he would set the record on Feb. 7 at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder (if he does sit out Monday against the Nets, as the team announced).

Since he turned 38 (on Dec. 30), LeBron has averaged 35.2 points per game, which would see the mark broken at home against the Thunder.

News and notes on LeBron’s quest for the record:

• The Lakers have officially listed LeBron (and Anthony Davis) as out for the game Monday night in Brooklyn. That is the first game of a back-to-back for the Lakers, and they have rested LeBron in half of those for most of the season. This will push back the date he breaks the record, making it likely it happens at Arena.

• LeBron scored 41 points — and felt he should have had a couple more — in the Lakers’ overtime loss to the Celtics Saturday on national television.

• Sixers Doc Rivers on what impresses him in LeBron’s run to this record: “LeBron has done it so differently to me [thank Kareem]. Because LeBron is not a natural scorer. LeBron is a playmaker. He got criticized early in his career for making the right decisions. And the fact that he’s now about to break the scoring record, it really points out his greatness.”

• LeBron scored 20 points in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs, a game in which Anthony Davis returned from injury and Rui Hachimura made his debut as a Laker after being traded from the Wizards.

• What has Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said about LeBron passing his record? There has been a bit of frostiness between the two men, but Abdul-Jabbar was gracious in comments to Marc Stein back in 2021 about the possibility of his record falling: “I’m excited to see it happen. I don’t see records as personal accomplishments, but more as human achievements. If one person can do something that’s never been done, that means we all have a shot at doing it. It’s a source of hope and inspiration. Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile back in 1954. Since then, not only have 1,400 runners beaten that time, but the new record is 17 seconds less. We all win when a record is broken and if LeBron breaks mine, I will be right there to cheer him on.”

Watch Harden run onto court from bench mid-play to defend


It takes a second to notice, but the 76ers had just four players on the court trying to defend the Nuggets on a late third-quarter possession.

But when James Harden — sitting on the bench — notices it, he stands up and runs into play, drawing a technical.

The technical foul was for having four men on the court, not on Harden specifically.

While that may have been a rare instance of Harden rushing to play defense, the 76ers as a team cranked up their defense in the second half against the Nuggets and went on to get the home win behind 47 points from Joel Embiid.