Deron Williams

Western Notes: Williams, LaVine, Plumlee, Afflalo

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle did not hesitate to insert veteran point guard Deron Williams into the starting lineup despite the emergence of rookie  Yogi Ferrell, Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com reports. Carlisle called Williams “a better player” than Ferrell, adding that Williams was “playing at close to All-Star caliber” before a toe injury sidelined him for eight games, MacMahon adds. Williams played 16 minutes in a blowout victory over the Magic on Saturday night, contributed seven points, four assists and three steals. Ferrell, who earned a two-year contract while filling in for Williams, played 32 minutes off the bench with Williams on a minutes restriction.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Timberwolves shooting guard Zach LaVine will undergo surgery to reconstruct the torn ACL in his left knee on Tuesday, according to a league press release. Lavine, who suffered the season-ending injury driving to the basket against the Pistons on Friday, February 3rd, was averaging 18.9 PPG and 3.0 APG. Brandon Rush and Shabazz Muhammad have shared the shooting guard spot since LaVine was sidelined.
  • The Nuggets got the better of the pending trade with the Blazers, Ben Golliver of SI.com opines. While it’s unlikely that the pairing of Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee would work defensively, it gives Denver coach Michael Malone the ability to establish a clear offensive identity across his rotations if Plumlee is used in a backup role, Golliver continues. The Blazers were smart to get something now for Plumlee, who will become a restricted free agent, before he became too expensive to keep but the return of Jusuf Nurkic and a first-rounder the Grizzlies owed the Nuggets was modest, Golliver adds.
  • Kings guard Arron Afflalo is getting some minutes at point guard due to injuries, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee writes. Afflalo has not played the point since high school but is unfazed by the situation, Jones adds. “It’s not really that much different; it’s just making sure the team gets into a play, into a set,” Afflalo told Jones. “I’m pretty familiar with the sets, and a lot of our spots are interchangeable.”

Mavs Notes: Williams, Ferrell, Trade Chips

Sidelined since January 25, veteran point guard Deron Williams has had his status updated to “questionable” for Saturday’s contest between the Mavs and Magic. The point guard has missed eight games nursing a sprained big toe on his left foot.

In 37 games with the Mavs this season, Williams has averaged 13.5 points and 7.1 assists per game and, after participating in shootaround earlier today, will be a game-time decision says Eddie Sefko of the Dallas News.

Williams’ absence, in addition to injuries and illness to J.J. Barea and Devin Harris, have contributed to the rise of 10-day signee Yogi Ferrell. Signed as a temporary replacement for previous 10-day signee Pierre Jackson, Ferrell was thrust into the spotlight in Dallas and did not disappoint. In seven games as a starter, Ferrell has averaged 15.3 points and 4.6 assists per game, enough to earn himself a two-year deal.

When Williams returns to the lineup, he will presumably assume his position in the starting five, but there’s no guarantee that the depth chart behind him will remain the same as it was prior to the Ferrell signing.

There’s more news out of Dallas:

  • An inconsistent season has put the Mavs in a unique position where there’s no direct indication that they’ll either be buyers or sellers at the deadline. If they do decide to make moves, they have a number of valuable trade chips, writes Eddie Sefko in a separate piece for the Dallas News. Andrew Bogut and his $11MM expiring deal will be coveted, as will Deron Williams and his one-year $9MM contract. Similarly, Dwight Powell and Justin Anderson could stand out as valuable assets with bargain contracts.
  • Since debuting with the Mavs at the end of January, undrafted rookie Yogi Ferrell has been a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable season. Ferrell hit the ground running with Dallas, starting in his first game with the club and Barry Horn of the Dallas News suggests that he could be partly responsible for a boost in the team’s TV ratings.
  • The Mavs will have the opportunity to draft a great player, regardless of position, writes Matt Mosley of the Dallas News. The writer specifies that, even despite the emergence of guards Seth Curry and Yogi Ferrell, if Lonzo Ball or Dennis Smith Jr. are available, them team should draft them anyway.

Latest On Cavaliers’ Playmaker Search

FEBRUARY 1, 10:00am: The Cavs have been putting in a lot of work on Chalmers and Stephenson, according to Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net, who tweets that those may be the free agents drawing the most interest from the Cavs.

JANUARY 31, 8:14pm: The Cavs are looking for outside help and on Wednesday, several free agents, including Kirk Hinrich, Mario Chalmers, and Lance Stephenson, will work out for the team. Jordan Farmar will also audition for the Cavs, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Farmar played two games for the Kings earlier this season before the team waived him.

Sam Amick of USA Today reports that Baron Davis has lobbied for himself to be considered for Cleveland’s open “playmaker” position. Davis hasn’t played in the NBA in over four years, but he believes he simply needs two weeks to get himself into peak shape, Amick relays.

Coach Tyronn Lue will be at the free agent auditions on Wednesday and he is expected to have heavy influence when it comes to selecting a player to fill the team’s 15th roster spot. The team could potentialy add two free agents if it decides to waive Chris Andersen, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors detailed earlier today.

Cleveland could also look to the trade market to bring in a playmaker and the team has inquired about Mavs point guard Deron Williams, according to Amick. Dallas is reportedly reluctant to move Williams even though he will be a free agent at the end of the season. Amick notes that the Mavs had expressed interest in signing Iman Shumpert when the guard was a free agent during the summer of 2015. Shumpert has three seasons and over $31MM left on his contract, though his deal contains a player option worth slightly over $11MM for the 2018/19 campaign.

Mavs Reluctant To Move Deron Williams?

In his “Monday Morning Tip” column, David Alridge of NBA.com divulged an interesting tidbit from the Mavericks‘ front office. Explaining why Dallas isn’t in the market for Carmelo Anthony, Aldridge noted that Wesley Matthews is “off-limits,” as is Deron Williams. Signed to a one-year, $9MM pact, Williams also isn’t interested in a buyout.

It’s to be expected that Donnie Nelson would hesitate to include Matthews in trade talks; Matthews has kept Dallas’ offense afloat through much of the season and is under contract through 2018/19. What’s more surprising is Williams’ unavailable status. A 32-year-old veteran, Williams has posted solid numbers while remaining healthy, with the exception of an eight-game stretch in November. Once J.J. Barea returns from a calf injury, Dallas will have a loaded depth chart at the 1, making Williams expendable for a team without playoff aspirations.

Dallas News columnist Tim Cowlishaw had a different take when it came to Williams’ trade status, observing “I would certainly trade Deron Williams if there was any trade interest although I can’t imagine that would amount to much with his age and injury status.”

Maverick Notes: Draft, Ntilikina, Matthews

The Mavericks currently own the fourth spot in our Reverse Standings, meaning if the season ended today, they would have an 11.2% chance at the No. 1 overall pick. Chad Ford of ESPN.com believes there’s a good chance the team opts to take a point guard with its first round selection. If the franchise ends up picking in the 6-10 range, a source tells Ford that the Mavs are very high on France’s Frank Ntilikina. The scribe hears that Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball are the only point guards higher than Ntilikina on their board.

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • The Mavs haven’t been successful in the draft in quite some time due to the team trading away first-round picks in foolish deals, Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News writes. Cowlishaw adds that the team hasn’t nailed many of the picks it hasn’t dealt away but he believes this year will be different because of the talent at the top of the draft.
  • The Mavs should deal Wes Matthews if the price is right, Cowlishaw contends. The scribe also argues that the team should trade Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut for whatever it can get back in return.
  • Bogut reiterated that he’s not looking to be traded as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News relays. “My agent said [a trade] probably [is] not going to happen, but I’m not the right guy to ask,” Bogut said. “The only thing I can tell you is I’m not banging on [Mark] Cuban’s door or Donnie’s [Nelson] door asking for a trade, contrary to what was [written] last month.”
  • Coach Rick Carlisle is pleased with Bogut’s game lately, as Sefko passes along in the same piece. “I really like the way he’s played the last two nights,” Carlisle said. “He’s a big positive when he’s in the game because of his impact defensively, and he’s doing some good things on offense. All in all, I’m very pleased with where he is right now.”

LeBron James: Cavs Need To Add Playmaker

Shortly after the Cavaliers acquired Kyle Korver earlier this month, LeBron James told reporters that the team still needed a backup point guard and another big man. General manager David Griffin wasn’t sold on the idea of adding another frontcourt player, but agreed with James that the Cavs could use another playmaker. Now, with Cleveland having lost five of its last seven games, the reigning Finals MVP has repeated his call for roster reinforcements.

“I just hope that we’re not satisfied as an organization,” James said on Monday night to a handful of Cavs’ beat reporters, including Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. “I just hope we’re not satisfied.”

As McMenamin details, James told reporters that this year’s Cavs aren’t better than last year’s team from a personnel standpoint, having failed to adequately replace a few departing players like Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov. James also views Cleveland’s roster as too “top-heavy,” relying on him, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love for a huge portion of the club’s production during the regular season.

“It’s great to have bodies (in the regular season),” James said. “Obviously, in the playoffs, you go down to what, eight max? And if somebody gets in foul trouble, you go to nine. You’re not playing back-to-backs. You have two days in between. You’re able to lock in. … When you don’t have bodies, it’s tough. The (expletive) grind of the regular season. We’re a top-heavy team.”

[RELATED: Five ways Cavs could address backup point guard spot]

James acknowledged that the front office was handcuffed to a certain extent by Mo Williams‘ last-minute decision to retire, since Williams had been penciled in as the team’s backup point guard prior to training camp. The 32-year-old also acknowledged that reliable rotation players don’t grow on trees, but stressed that the Cavs “need a (expletive) playmaker.”

“I don’t know what we got to offer (in trades),” James said. “I just know me, personally? I don’t got no time to waste. I’ll be 33 in the winter, and I ain’t got time to waste. That’s what I’m talking about.”

As James hints, the Cavs don’t have a ton of appealing assets to dangle in trade talks. The earlier first-round pick Cleveland can trade is its 2021 selection, and most of the players the club can afford to part with have modest contracts, which could make salary-matching difficult. The Cavs have five traded player exceptions at their disposal, but the largest one is worth about $4.84MM, so any player making more than $5MM or so would be out of reach with those TPEs. The team will also have to be wary of adding too much more salary to its books — no NBA club has a higher payroll ($127MM+) or a more substantial projected tax bill ($27MM+) than Cleveland.

[RELATED: Salary Cap Snapshot: Cleveland Cavaliers]

Nonetheless, the Cavs figure to continue scouring the market for potential difference-makers. Mitch Lawrence of Forbes suggests that Jameer Nelson, Rajon Rondo, and Deron Williams are among the team’s possible targets, and while some of those options are probably less realistic than others, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Cleveland make a move before next month’s trade deadline.

Clippers Notes: Griffin, Rivers, Paul, Mavericks

The Clippers are hoping Blake Griffin will be able to play during their upcoming road trip, according to Dan Woike of The Orange County Register. The star forward has been sidelined since undergoing surgery in December to clear some “loose bodies” in his right knee. Griffin underwent stress tests on the knee Thursday and is expected to participate in some contact work today. The team is hoping he will be medically cleared for game action during the five-game trip, which extends through February 1st.

There’s more Clippers news out of Los Angeles:

  • Coach Doc Rivers suspected a problem with Griffin’s knee when he noticed the All-Star forward wasn’t getting past defenders as easily as he normally does. Rivers told Rowan Kavner of NBA.com that Griffin is starting to regain that ability again. “He looks great,” the coach said. “I don’t think the timeframe has changed. I know he feels wonderful. He looks like he’s explosive again.”
  • Rivers is planning to use several players to make up for the loss of Chris Paul, who will be out six to eight weeks following thumb surgery, Woike writes in a separate story. That means increased minutes for Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick and possibly Austin Rivers. “It’s still next man up,” Doc Rivers said. “You take the top two players from any team, it makes it harder, but I don’t agree that it means that you struggle. You lose two guys, there’s nothing you can do about it. I think our guys have handled it well.”
  • The Mavericks have a surplus of point guards who might interest the Clippers, suggests Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Dallas could offer Deron Williams, who will be a free agent after this season, Devin Harris, who is signed for one more year at a little more than $4.4MM, or J.J. Barea, who has two seasons left at about $3.9MM and $3.7MM.

Southwest Notes: D’Antoni, Beverley, Frazier, Mavs

The RocketsMike D’Antoni is the early favorite to be named Coach of the Year, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. D’Antoni’s up-tempo attack has turned James Harden into an MVP candidate and has made Houston a contender in the West. The Rockets are off to a 19-7 start after a disappointing 41-41 season under Kevin McHale and J.B. Bickerstaff. Stein says a close runner-up to D’Antoni is new Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, whose team is 18-9 despite an injury-filled start to the season.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets are 13-2 since Patrick Beverley‘s return from injury and he may be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Houston has improved to 17th in defensive efficiency since it got Beverley back in the lineup, and he has a shot at becoming the first guard to win the award in 20 years. “I feel like I am the best defensive player in the league right now,” Beverley said. “I hope the whole world sees it. If we win games, more and more people see it. But the last guard to get the Defensive Player of the Year award was Gary Payton. Why not me? I have the same type of killer mindset that he had, the lateral quickness and quick hands. The swagger also. That’s one of my goals, my biggest goal. If I can get a goal like that, I will put my team in a position to win a lot of games.”
  • Pelicans point guard Tim Frazier will be sidelined with a contusion on a bone in his wrist, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate. Frazier estimates his recovery time at a week to 10 days.
  • Harrison Barnes has been a pleasant surprise in a dreadful season for the Mavericks, states Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News. After joining the team on a max contract this summer, Barnes has responded by averaging 20.4 points per game. In his weekly chat, Cowlishaw also addresses possible trades involving Wesley Matthews, Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut, as well as the potential consequences of shutting down Dirk Nowitzki for the rest of the season.

Mavericks Notes: Curry, Nowitzki, Bogut, Cuban

Injuries to Dirk Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut have depleted the Mavericks’ front line, but at least their backcourt is getting healthy, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Seth Curry returned to the lineup and played 25 minutes Friday night. Deron Williams no longer has a minutes restriction, while Devin Harris is playing, although he is still limited to 20 minutes per game. “I was a little careful with [Curry] with the minutes in his first game back,” said coach Rick Carlisle. “I thought considering he’d been out nine days, he did fine. Having that extra guy at the guard position really alleviates a minutes crunch. And it helps Devin’s situation, too.”

There’s more news out of Dallas:

  • Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni can sympathize with the Mavericks because he has experience in trying to run a team with an injured star, Sefko notes in a separate story. D’Antoni coached the Lakers in 2013/14 when Kobe Bryant was limited to six games. “It’s tough. You have a big part of your team for the last 15 years or whatever Dirk’s played,” D’Antoni said. “Not being there, there’s no way around it. When you have a superstar that good, you can’t get around it. We’re not going to feel sorry for them, but it’s not a great thing to go through, that’s for sure.”
  • Nowitzki can’t turn this year’s Mavericks into a playoff team, claims Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News. Cowlishaw says the team wasn’t built to withstand the wave of injuries it suffered early in the year. He adds that the main concern now should be seeing how much value the Mavericks can get for Bogut and some of the other veterans.
  • Owner Mark Cuban sees parallels between his team and the cross-town Cowboys, who came off an injury-filled season and now have the NFL’s best record, relays Adam Grosbard of The Dallas Morning News. Cuban says the Mavericks have players who can be successful, but they need to find a new franchise player the way the Cowboys did. “We feel that we got some pieces that can be good pieces on a great team,” he said. “But we still need that superstar starter for the future.”

Mavs Notes: D. Williams, Nowitzki, Carlisle

Despite his team’s NBA-worst record, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stated earlier this week that he has no interest in tanking this season. In Cuban’s view, the benefits of tanking don’t necessarily outweigh the risks, since even the league’s worst team only has a 25% chance at the first overall pick, and clubs risk creating a losing culture by deliberately angling for a top draft pick.

Still, as Kevin Herrington of The Dallas Morning News explains, it wouldn’t be hard for the Mavs to engaged in a “natural tank.” With a handful of veteran players banged up and dealing with various injuries, there’s no need to push those players, says Herrington. It makes more sense to let them get healthy, perhaps trading a veteran or two, and to let the club’s younger players take on larger roles. No team this year looks as bad as last season’s 10-win Sixers, so the Mavs could very well end up with one of the NBA’s worst records even if they stay competitive, as Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post writes.

Let’s round up a few more notes out of Dallas…

  • Mavs point guard Deron Williams has partnered with local MMA coach Sayif Saud to open a new MMA gym in Dallas, according to Mark Francescutti of The Dallas Morning News. Williams says his MMA training has helped lessen the effect of physical impact on his body, and hasn’t ruled out the idea of competing in the sport after his NBA career ends.
  • With the Mavs struggling and his troublesome Achilles keeping him out of action, Dirk Nowitzki is “mired in basketball misery” at the moment, says Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. While Nowitzki likely won’t be afforded the luxury of finishing his career on a title contender like Tim Duncan did, he’ll still be remembered as one of the NBA’s great players when he calls it a career, as Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich asserts. “What they’ve done is iconic, unique,” Popovich said of Nowitzki and Duncan. “They deserve whatever accolades they get from whatever source. If each of them played seven more years and couldn’t do anything, they still deserve it.”
  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News takes a closer look at the impact that Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle is having on younger players like Justin Anderson and Dwight Powell in Dallas this season.

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