Whether the media reports that Deron Williams played a key role in Jerry Sloan filing his retirement papers midway through the season have any factual basis or not, it was time Williams moved on from Salt Lake. And so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut would say, the career of the NBA’s longest tenured coach at 23 years, a man as synonymous with the phrase “pick and roll” as peanut butter is to jelly.
For Williams to stay, particularly had Williams signed an extension at year’s end, it would have meant a career mired with the constant whispers and accusations correlating him with Sloan’s abrupt departure. Neither Sloan nor Williams deserve their names to be dragged through the mud of the rumor mill.
A clean break was needed; and while I find it hard to believe a single player could have forced the hand of the stern Sloan to balk or walk, in turn walking, the ultimate decision rested with Sloan alone. It appears from those looking from the outside in that Sloan’s frustration may have had more to do with management trading away key pieces (Boozer, Matthews, Korver) in the 2010 offseason and not picking up others to place Utah in better contention with the familiar Western powers of the Lakers, Spurs, and emerging Oklahoma City Thunder.
Now Williams is with an abysmal New Jersey Nets team at the bottom of the East. In “Developing a Dynamic Duo Takes Time,” Yannis Koutroupis of HOOPSWORLD writes how “the New Jersey Nets hit a homerun at the deadline by acquiring All-Star point guard Deron Williams.”
But did they?
While predicting a player’s future is no more than a guessing game at best, I have strong doubts Williams will stay with New Jersey past the end of the 2011-12 NBA season. Williams is a competitor. His will to succeed seems far too great to be the face of a franchise, along with the talented 7’0″ Brook Lopez, at the very start of a rebuilding process.
Because let’s face it, that is exactly what it is.
Will Mikhail Prokhorov find a way to lure other big name talents to town? What other players even seem poised to land in New Jersey in the near future who won’t be gobbled up by the likes of Miami, Boston, Chicago, and now New York with the Carmelo trade. David West? Greg Oden? Tim Duncan? Tony Parker? Nick Young? Joakim Noah? Glen Davis? Tayshaun Prince? Jamal Crawford? Who?
In all likelihood, the Deron Williams run in New Jersey will end before any homeruns are hit, maybe even before a single can be had. With the sun setting on the careers of Derek Fisher (Los Angeles Lakers) and Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks) in the West, you’ll see with these two franchises GMs looking to surround their already existing talent with an essential piece to the puzzle; and that key piece to continuing success is none other than Deron Williams.
Williams, as Charles Barkley noted, is “the best point guard in the NBA. Period.”
He has the size, strength, and athletic ability to score on one end and defend on the other. Not Chris Paul or Steve Nash, who often overshadow Williams, offers that package.
Don’t hold your breath on Williams signing an extension Nets fans. He’s only a Net for now. Enjoy it while you can.