| 6 years ago||
Deron Williams: My contract's up in two years. It's a now or never situation
What's Deron Williams thinking these days?
I hate to do this to my friends in the 801, but there's no point in sugarcoating it. When this Carmelo business is done, you're on the clock, Utah.
Deron Williams ain't especially happy, and as every NBA fan should know by now, an unhappy star makes for a vulnerable team in the Age of LeBron.
"It should be happening by now," Williams said last week. "We've just got to figure it out. We can't just come out and expect teams to give us games."
The "it" in Williams' mind is the maddening inconsistency of the Jazz, culminating in Utah's 0-fer road trip, including bad losses at Video Washington and Video New Jersey. You can usually set your watch by Utah's defense and its offensive efficiency under Jerry Sloan, but this season the Jazz has been all over the place, falling behind by double digits a dozen times in the first two months of the season.
That Utah came back to win most of those games made a great story, and as late as last Monday the Jazz were tied for first in the Northwest. (They're 1 1/2 games behind the Thunder for the division lead now). But Utah hasn't been the defensive stopper of years past (the Jazz are 17th in points allowed) and they don't bludgeon opponents on the glass (24th in rebound differential, getting outboarded by 2.16 rebounds per game). Nor has Utah been next to unbeatable at Energy Solutions Arena (they're 15-7 there this season after going 32-9 at home last season).
"We've had some games where we've had some miracles happen and we came back and won them," Williams said. "We can't rely on that game after game. We have to find some consistency. We have to find a way to be tougher mentally and get out and put teams away early. We can't let teams build confidence on us early and get their confidence going, because any team in the league can beat you when they do that ...we've struggled on defense at times; we've struggled offensively at times; we've played great offensively at times, we've played defensively at times."
But Williams is also disappointed at the parade of talent out of Salt Lake City.
He made no secret of his displeasure last year when the Jazz traded Ronnie Brewer to the Grizzlies for a first-round pick, and he lamented the imminent departure of Carlos Boozer to free agency. And when Kyle Korver followed Boozer to Chicago, and the Jazz didn't match Portland's offer sheet for undrafted rookie Wes Matthews, Williams wasn't the only one worried that Utah's talent drain couldn't be overcome.
Utah's great general manager, Kevin O'Connor, salvaged the situation as well as could be expected, trading for power forward Al Jefferson and signing free agent guards Raja Bell and Earl Watson. But is Utah better, or running in place in the ultra-competitive West?
Williams was happy with the moves.
"I was excited, 'cause it got a little scary there," Williams said. "We lost Wes, we lost Kyle, we lost Booze, and it was like, 'What are we going to do?' And we bounced back and we added some good guys. We added Al, we added Earl, we picked up Gordon (Hayward) and Jeremy (Evans) in the Draft, and they've been two bright additions to the team. And I was pleased. We got Raj."
But is Utah as good defensively as it used to be? And does this team have the luxury of working all those new players in?
"Not really," Williams said. "My contract's up in two years. It's a now or never situation. I don't know what I'm going to do after this one."
Williams has not said what he will do in the summer of 2012, only that he won't have a half-hour program to announce his intentions. But he paid attention to what happened last offseason, when James, Chris Bosh and Wade teamed up and went to Miami as a package deal.
"Of course," Williams said. "You've got to. It's a different state. Guys are doing different things now. They're trying to change that with the CBA, that's for sure."
That may be Utah's biggest edge going forward. Regardless of what changes are made to the next collective bargaining agreement, it's almost a certainty that a new deal will still allow the incumbent team to pay more than other teams. It's been a hallmark of the Commish's desire to make sure that smaller markets have a chance to field competitive teams. And Williams will give the Jazz every chance to improve the roster further between now and '12.
But the clock is ticking, as of right now.
"It's not surprising on the road," Williams said. "We've had that problem before on the road. Our record is a lot better this year. But it's surprising at home. We still haven't figured out what's going on. We're at the halfway point now. It should have happened weeks ago, months ago. But it is what it is."
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this clearly means he's coming to the pistons