|NBA Free Agent Rumors: 76ers guard Lou Williams set to test free agent market||06.18.12 at 4:19 pm ET|
While 76ers’ guard Lou Williams wants to remain in Philadelphia, he has decided to opt out of the final year of his contract. Williams, 25, chose to opt out in order to gauge his market. He was scheduled to make $6.39 million dollars this season, which would have been the last year of a 5-year, $25 million contract.
The Philadelphia Daily News reports that interest in Williams is “significant” and he could be offered a contract in the “Thaddeus Young range.” Young, a backup forward for the 76ers, was given a 5-year deal worth about $43 million before the start of this season.
Williams averaged 11.5 points off the Sixers bench. He was the third highest scorer on the 22nd ranked Philadelphia offense.
|Sixers in search of closer, remain positive despite fourth-quarter collapse||05.14.12 at 10:05 am ET|
This was the script Doug Collins dreamed of — his team clinging to a six-point lead, early in the fourth quarter on the road, despite multiple runs by the Celtics. His collar loosened, ever so slightly, as Lou Williams got a hand on a Ray Allen jump shot, and then pulled up in transition to bury a long-range shot of his own. Seconds later, Lavoy Allen sank a textbook baby hook shot, and the 76ers opened up a 10-point lead.
The momentum abruptly came to a halt, however, as the Celtics went on a 12-2 run over the next five minutes. The Sixers offense proved to be non-existent at the worst possible time, and suddenly, with just under five minutes left to play, Philly was trading baskets in a one-possession game with the Celtics. The lead, the security, and hopes of catching Boston off guard and stealing home court vanished.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Collins said. “We are off to a really good start. What we needed here, coming in today on the road, we fought on some. When it is all said and done, we had a great chance to get this game today and just had four really bad offensive possessions that really hurt us.”
What may trouble Collins most is not how his team blew the lead, but who blew the lead. Going into the fourth quarter, everything appeared to be working for the 76ers. Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner had 16 points each, the Sixers forced Rajon Rondo into committing six turnovers, they outscored Boston’s bench 20-14, and they were even shooting 4-of-10 on 3-pointers.
A big question mark going into this series, though, was if Philly’s playmakers – Iguodala, Turner and Williams — could come through down the stretch. Saturday night, the answer was no. The three combined to go 2-for-10 from the field in the fourth quarter. And, as their shooting touch failed them, none were able to get to the foul line. Williams had a shot blocked, Iguodala had two of his sent the other way, and both had turnovers in critical moments. Most telling is that not one 76er scored more than four points in the fourth quarter.
“That’s sort of the sign of a team that’s trying to grow and figure out what it is to play this kind of championship basketball in the NBA playoffs,” Collins said.
As much as the Sixers did struggle, Rondo was great when he needed to be, atoning for an uneven night. In the final frame alone, he had six points, four assists and five boards. The assists came from Rondo pushing the ball upcourt. The Celtics scored seven of their 14 fast-break points in the fourth quarter. Perhaps the scariest aspect of Rondo’s fourth-quarter performance was each of his three field goals coming from 18 feet and out.
“When he starts making shots, you have to honor that,” Turner said. “That allows the other guys to get space. It allows [Kevin Garnett] to get on the block one-on-one with a guy, or Paul [Pierce] to iso, or for Ray [Allen].”
Said Doc Rivers: “I thought Rondo’s shooting, obviously, down the stretch was fantastic. He wanted those shots. We ran that play, we were going to switch Ray and put him in that spot where the guy curls back up, and Rondo wanted that play. He wanted the shot and he took it. That has to be great for his confidence.”
|76ers minus two||11.25.09 at 7:54 pm ET|
The Sixers are without starting point guard Lou Williams and power forward Elton Brand for Wednesday night’s game with the Celtics.
Williams suffered a fractured jaw in their game Tuesday with Washington, while Brand has been struggling with a sore hamstring. Rookie Jrue Holiday will start in place of Williams and Jason Smith gets the nod for Brand.