File this under “Foreseen Events.” Deron Williams is likely to miss his lone return to Barclays Center this season after pulling himself out of the Dallas Mavericks’ loss to the Toronto Raptors Wednesday night.
Williams cited a hamstring injury as his reason for exiting the 103-99 loss. Despite claiming he’s healthier and happier than he’s ever been, the once-heralded NBA point guard is injured just as much now as he was in New Jersey/Brooklyn and is posting nearly the same numbers. The former Net missed Dallas’ entire training camp and preseason with a bum calf and is now claiming a hamstring injury–the type of malady that tends to linger.
Currently, Williams is averaging 14.8 PPG and 5.8 APG with lower expectations. On a team with three other point guards who play regular minutes–Devin Harris, Raymond Felton, J.J. Barea–Williams is asked to do far less. Much of the heavy lifting makes its way to Dirk Nowitzki, the ageless forward.
Wednesday night at Barclays Center marked Williams’ chance to face the music (in the form of boos). He held the Nets hostage in many of their ill-fated decisions, which explains the team’s dire circumstances at present.
Following the splashy–and costly–move for the aging Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the latter said the duo was in Brooklyn “as a support system for Deron.” The former described his time in Brooklyn as miserable, mainly because of Williams. Prior to the 2014-15 playoff, Pierce trashed Williams and his lack of effort and accountability.
“Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,” Pierce said in an interview with ESPN. “But I felt once we got there, that’s not what he wanted to be. He just didn’t want that. I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.”
No one will blame a player for not possessing the ability to handle great pressure, but Williams asked for it–and then ducked it. In the process, the Nets shipped away a gaggle of first round picks that has stripped the franchise bare. But if you ask Williams, the Nets fans and media are the bad guys.
“Those Brooklyn fans, they expected more out of me,” he said. “I expected more out of myself. Injuries are tough, man. Somebody that’s been injured year after year, they can attest. They take a toll on you physically. It takes a toll on you mentally. Add that to the New York media and the fans — or I should say the non-fans, the ones that don’t pick you up — it all takes a toll on you. I think it definitely took a toll on me, but that’s what happens when you get paid that money and you don’t produce like it.”
Williams also added that playing with the Nets made him question whether to “quit” the game. His words fall in line with much of the criticism levied by Pierce. It’s his nature to pass blame elsewhere. Had he been as adept at passing the basketball, the Nets might have gone somewhere.