NBA Sunday: Deron Williams’s Wish List
Deron Williams Has a Wish List, Too
So much has been made the last few months over the wish list put together by Dwight Howard’s camp, but 2012’s other huge potential free agent, New Jersey’s Deron Williams, was bound to have a list at some point, too.
And now he does. Here’s what it looks like: Brooklyn, Dallas, New York, and the L.A. Lakers.
No huge surprises there, yet still refreshing to see where D-Will’s heart is pointing him. According to ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard, the Nets actually are still the point guard’s first choice, but only if they can bring in some more star power to get that future looking a little more promising. With an owner so open to spending money, a pretty desirable move to Brooklyn, and real potential to eventually get Howard into town, it’s pretty easy to figure out why he’d want to stay.
The Lakers should be no shock, either. Outside of the HEAT, there isn’t a better team in the league in need of a point guard, and the added bonuses of Los Angeles have been well-publicized. Playing back home in Dallas for Mark Cuban and the defending champions, or teaming up with Carmelo, Amar’e, and Tyson Chandler wouldn’t be so bad, either.
But which of these teams seems most likely to land Williams, either before the trade deadline or as a free agent in July? It depends on how they hope to acquire him. Dallas, for example, doesn’t have anything to offer in trade that New Jersey would really want, but they will have enough cap space to offer a max contract in free agency. The Knicks, meanwhile, won’t have the cap space, but could potentially offer up Carmelo or Amar’e as the main piece of a trade. Unfortunately, the Lakers don’t have cap space or trade assets, making them the least likely of this batch.
At the end of the day, Williams is likely to hold out in New Jersey this season with the hope that the team could still acquire Howard before the deadline. Of course, the more Orlando wins, the less likely it is that they’ll trade him, and the Nets may feel forced to cash out Williams in March so as not to lose him for nothing at season’s end. If that happens he could end up almost anywhere, though if this most recent list—which Williams himself has denied knowing anything about—is accurate it seems improbable that non-list teams would give up too much for the guy without a guarantee of him staying long-term.
It’s also interesting that the wish-list for Deron Williams looks a heck of a lot like Dwight Howard’s list. These two players have reportedly set their hearts on playing together next season, but we’re still nowhere near knowing whether that will actually happen or not, even with all these lists flying around.
Henderson a Bright Spot In Charlotte’s Murky Season
It hasn’t been an easy year for the Charlotte Bobcats by any stretch of the imagination. A year ago the team was coming off their first playoff appearance, with veterans like Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson playing some of the best basketball of their careers as the team attempted to build on their success in 2010.
Early in 2011-2012, however, those days feel like distant memories. Charlotte, at 3-13, is one of the worst teams in the NBA, and their two best players now are guys still on their rookie contracts.
Third-year guard Gerald Henderson, the team’s top scorer, has been one of the team’s few bright spots early in the year. At 15.5 ppg, he’s averaging almost a full 6 ppg more than his sophomore campaign, and that improved offensive efficiency has earned him a career-high 35.4 minutes per contest.
“My jump shot has gotten better, but my success has to do with seeing things on the court and thinking in the game, which comes from watching tape,” Henderson told HOOPSWORLD. “It’s a learning process for my teammates and I. Collectively we need to score more points. That means that I need to get more assists and I feel like that’s something that I can do.”
Despite exponential growth on offense in each of his first three years, Henderson knows that real success is measured in victories.
“I wish I could do more to help this team win,” he said. “When you lose a game it’s hard to really care about how much you scored or what your stats looked like.”
When you lose 13 out of 16 it gets even more difficult to find joy in statistics, especially when you’ve done nothing but win basketball games your entire life. Most NBA players saw tons of success in high school, and Henderson played his college ball at the notoriously victorious Duke University. That’s why, despite his age, Gerald is an undeniable leader for this young club.
“I embrace that role,” Henderson admitted. “There are a couple guys older than me on the team, but leadership is one of those things that has more than one meaning. You can be a vocal leader or you can be a guy who goes out and shows leadership by the way that they play. I feel like I am both on this team, but at the end of the day I just want to win. Whether it’s leading vocally or by playing hard, I just want to go out and win and be competitive.”
Henderson’s opportunity came about halfway through his second year in the league, when head coach Larry Brown stepped down and Paul Silas took his place. Where Brown buried Henderson on the bench, Silas brought out the best in him, and that’s not something that’s lost on the player.
“He (Silas) does a great job keeping our spirits up and encouraging us to give everything we’ve got. All the guys like him and I think he’s pushing us in the right direction,” said Henderson. “I wish we could win for him more but he knows we’re out there trying to play hard.”
Playing hard hasn’t been enough this year, which means it could be a long season for Gerald Henderson and the rest of his squad. That means it’s probably going to end up being the sort of season where Silas tries to cultivate all that young talent and get the kids most tied to the future some minutes. Rookie Kemba Walker, for example, is now in the starting lineup. We’ll probably see more of Bismack Biyombo as the season goes on, too, and D.J. Augustin and Henderson are going to continue receiving opportunities to score a combined 30 points per game. If they aren’t going to win, they’ll develop their youth, and Henderson is arguably the best of that youth.
Bulls Thrive in D-Rose’s Absence
The Chicago Bulls are 4-1 without Derrick Rose, which is pretty incredible considering how helpless it’s generally assumed the team would be without their MVP. There are plenty of ways to explain this success, most notably the fact that they’ve played most of those five games at home against bad teams, but whatever the explanation the team continues to win, and back-up point guard C.J. Watson has to be given at least some of the credit for that.
Watson has started the last three games, and over the course of the last four-game stretch without Rose, Watson is averaging 16.5 ppg and 6 apg. Those numbers don’t make up completely for Rose’s absence, but they certainly have gone a long way towards stopping the bleeding.
“I’m just going out and playing my game,” Watson told HOOPSWORLD. “It’s nothing different, really, just trying to control the team and make sure we win the game.”
It’s easy to forget how good Watson was as a member of the Golden State Warriors a couple of years ago, mostly because the backup to D-Rose simply doesn’t play a lot of minutes. But Watson is reminding us why Chicago brought him on board in the summer of 2010.
“You’ve got to give CJ a lot of credit,” said teammate Carlos Boozer. “He’s coming off an elbow [injury], where he had been sitting for three weeks. Kind of got thrust in the starting lineup and he’s playing phenomenal. You’ve got to give him a lot of credit for stepping in and taking that challenge on. He’s doing a great job of scoring the ball for us.”
That elbow injury is still bothering him, but he’s trying to suck it up and give his team what they need while their superstar heals up.
“I knew it was going to be a lingering thing. I actually thought I was going to be out a little bit longer,” Watson said. “The pain has been mild enough where I’ve been able to fight through. I’m playing, but in in some ways I’m playing with just one good arm.”
The fact that he’s played so well despite an injury of his own makes his story even more intriguing. Still, like the rest of the players in that Chicago locker room, Watson really doesn’t seem to care about minutes or stats. As it always has been under Tom Thibodeau, 2011-2012 is about wins and, potentially, an NBA Finals appearance. That’s really all that matters.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Watson admitted. “A lot of guys sacrifice a lot of things—minutes, points, whatever it may be—but we all want the same thing, and that’s to win a championship.”
With the best record in the league, again, the Bulls are a favorite in the Eastern Conference. They won’t stay that way if Rose is out for the postseason, but in the regular season, for now, the rest of the team, led by Watson, is enough to keep the Bulls elite.