Chicago Bulls swingman Tony Snell talked with Basketball Insiders at adidas Nations.
Lou Williams Excited to Join Raptors
One of the most underrated moves of the 2014 NBA offseason was the Toronto Raptors’ trade for Lou Williams.
In late June, Toronto sent John Salmons’ non-guaranteed contract and a second-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Williams and Lucas Nogueira.
Williams gives the Raptors another weapon in their already-deep backcourt, which also features Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Greivis Vazquez. When healthy, Williams has been one of the league’s best sixth men and he’s looking forward to bringing energy and instant offense off of the Toronto bench. He believes he fits in better with the Raptors than he did with the Hawks and head coach Mike Budenholzer.
“I was actually in L.A. [when the trade happened] – I was in L.A. working out and at the same time having some quiet time with my family,” Williams told Basketball Insiders. “So I was out in L.A. and Danny Ferry gave me a call and said they were exploring some options. He didn’t want me to be blindsided. About three days later, I got traded to Toronto.
“I am excited to a part of a young core, I am excited be on a team that wants me, that has a high expectation level for me. My time here in Atlanta, I realized that they were going in a direction that probably didn’t fit my style of play and I probably didn’t fit Coach Bud’s style of play. I’m a guy that needs the ball to be effective and they really didn’t need that from me. They were building a different core of a basketball team. I felt like it worked out for both sides, they got some talented guys in making moves this offseason and I feel great about the fit that I’m in.”
Williams has talked to Lowry, DeRozan and Amir Johnson and the veterans have made it clear that the goal is for the Raptors to contend. The Eastern Conference is wide open and Toronto believes they have a shot to make a deep postseason run.
“Based on the conversations that I’ve had with those guys, they take themselves very seriously and they feel like they can be contenders,” Williams said of Toronto. “I’m excited to get in the gym with these guys. I’m excited to build with them. I always like competing with guys that love competing. Based off of talking to DeMar, Kyle and Amir, they want to win and they feel like guys don’t take them seriously. So I’m excited to get it started.”
Williams’ 2012-13 season with the Hawks came to a premature end when he tore his ACL and the recovery forced him to miss a significant chunk of the 2013-14 season as well. Now, he’s doing much better.
Williams recently participated in the Atlanta Entertainment Basketball League (AEBL), which was founded by Jah Rawlings in 2013. He assembled some players for “Team Uptown Sounds” and ended up winning the league’s championship. The league featured a number of other players with NBA experience such as Jarrett Jack, Will Barton, Shannon Brown, Damien Wilkins, James White, Travis Leslie and Jordan McRae among others.
Williams is glad that he’s healthy enough to play this offseason and work on his game.
“I’m getting my quickness back, getting the explosion back,” Williams said. “Coming off of a torn ACL and coming off of one of the more challenging seasons of my career, I’m just getting back to how I played basketball in the past.
“I feel like I’m at 90 percent or higher – I’m attacking in transition again, I’m playing with a lot of confidence, I’m not even thinking about my knee when I play basketball. The sky is the limit right now.”
It wasn’t long ago that Williams was one of the best reserves in the league. In his final season with the Philadelphia 76ers back in 2011-12, he led the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game despite the fact that he didn’t start a single game.
Williams has had some conversations with the Raptors’ coaches and executives, and they’re expecting him to play a similar role in Dwane Casey’s offense.
“They just want me to be in shape, they want Greivis and I to come off the bench and give them energy, score the basketball and play with excitement,” Williams said.
So does that mean we’re going to see Williams back in the Sixth Man of the Year discussion again?
“I’m working on it,” Williams said with a smile. “I’ve always been in the conversation. I want to be back in the conversation.”
NBA Fines Raptors $25,000 for Drake’s Comments
Last week, Drake closed his fifth annual OVO fest in Toronto with a message for Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant. The rapper, who became the Toronto Raptors’ global ambassador in September of 2013, asked the crowd to make noise for the reigning NBA MVP and show him what it would be like to play in Toronto.
“Before we leave, I just want to show one of my brothers something,” Drake said to the crowd. “You know, my brother Kevin Durant was kind enough to come to the show tonight and watch us. I just want him to see what would happen if he came to play in Toronto. Let him know what would happen.”
The audience obviously went nuts, chanting KD and screaming for the superstar. Video of the comments circulated on the internet.
Now, those comments will reportedly cost the Raptors $25,000.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the NBA has fined the organization for “a violation of its anti-tampering rules” since Durant is under contract with the Thunder and Drake has an official title with the team.
Durant will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016 and a number of teams have already been mentioned as a potential suitor for him, including his hometown Washington Wizards as well as the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, who are “known to be positioning themselves to have sufficient salary-cap space to make a run at him,” according to Stein.
One on One With Jerryd Bayless
Milwaukee Bucks guard Jerryd Bayless talked to Basketball Insiders at adidas Nations.