Nets guard Williams opens up about future, playoffs, top PGs
As the second round of the playoffs continues for eight teams, the Nets have their eyes on the future -- a new, state-of-the-art arena in 2012, a hoard of cap space to pursue talent and an elite point guard manning the ship. Two-time All-Star Deron Williams, who's still adjusting to life in New Jersey after the Jazz abruptly traded him in late February, has used his time off to rehab a surgically repaired wrist and think about spending additional years with the Nets (he can become a free agent in 2012). He also took some time to speak with SI.com about everything from the lockout to the league's top point guards while promoting his favorite video game, Call of Duty: Black Ops.
SI.com: So in addition to touring the Call of Duty studios in Santa Monica, Calif., you also just toured the Nets' new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. What did you think?
Williams: It was cool. It was good to just get out there and see the surrounding area where the arena is going to be. They definitely have enough up to where you can picture everything and see where the suite levels are and how the seating is going to be. It was interesting. We were standing center court kind of looking up at everything and they were just explaining where everything was going to be. It was cool.
SI.com: Was it somewhere you could see yourself long-term?
Williams: We'll see. I'm definitely warming up to it and the organization has been great to me since I've been there and has made me feel real comfortable. I like coach [Avery] Johnson and the rest of the coaching staff. I just want to win -- that's my main objective. If we can get good guys in there and do something with the cap space that we have, then I can see myself staying there.
SI.com: Where are your expectations during the offseason, for you and the team?
Williams: For me, to just get back in shape. I just had surgery and my wrist is healing. It's a lot of weight off my shoulders since I've been battling wrist injuries for the last two years. And really, the last four months of the season were a tough time for me because I couldn't do the things I'm capable of doing. So I'm just glad to be healthy.
And then as far as the team, we have to see where the CBA goes and if there's even going to be a season. And then after that, hopefully we can sign some guys and get some guys in here.
SI.com: What's the status on your recovery?
Williams: I have probably about three more weeks of rehabbing before I'll be 100 percent.
SI.com: What's been the biggest adjustment for you since the midseason trade?
Williams: I think the timing was just the biggest adjustment for me, just moving -- well, I didn't really move -- just leaving my family behind in Salt Lake City. My kids were in school and my wife was pregnant, so she couldn't just pick up and move to New Jersey with me. I had to be away from them for the last part of the season. And then we had the baby and I had to leave the baby after three days. It was tough. Being away from my family was the hardest thing.
SI.com: Will your family be joining you in New Jersey?
Williams: Hard to say until we figure out what happens with the new collective bargaining agreement.
SI.com: What would you do if there were a work stoppage?
Williams: I'm looking at some things. It's possible I could go overseas and find a contract there so I could resume play.
SI.com: Have you been watching the playoffs?
Williams: A little bit. I've been watching off and on; I don't really watch full games. It's frustrating not being able to play. I'll see a game on and I'll watch for a couple minutes, but not in detail.
SI.com: This year seemed to be all about the point guard. Is there one you enjoy watching?
Williams: There's a lot of them I enjoy watching. D-Rose [Derrick Rose] is one of them. Russell Westbrook. Those guys are probably two of the most athletic point guards you'll find, just the things that they do. Of course I enjoy watching Chris Paul. I enjoy watching Jason Kidd -- he knows how to play the game the right way. So there are a lot of guys I like to watch.
SI.com: Who's the toughest matchup for you?
Williams: I struggle with the quicker point guards. Of course Westbrook and D-Rose, I think they're the hardest to guard of anybody in this league just because it's hard to stay in front of them. Tony Parker is tough to guard. CP3 is tough to guard. Every night you're faced with a tough guard in this league; there's really no night off.
SI.com: Speaking of Westbrook, he's come under scrutiny recently for struggling to balance scoring and playmaking. From your experience, how hard is that?
Williams: It's not hard for me because I'm a point guard naturally. With Russell, I think he's growing into that role. Like with D-Rose, he's a point guard, but he's a scoring point guard. It's a tough situation with Russell because of who he's playing with. With Derrick, he can go out there and shoot 25 shots a game and that's what he needs to do to win. I think it's tough for Russell because he might want to shoot 25 shots a game but when you have Kevin Durant over there who needs the ball, especially in late-game situations, you can't really just come down and shoot it every time or shoot 25 shots a game. So I think that's the problem that they're having.
SI.com: And is that something that will come with more experience for Westbrook?
Williams: Yeah, I think so. I think he's already become a much better point guard than when he first came in the league. His turnovers are down, his assists are up, he's so much more confident. He's playing great basketball. He plays so hard that you can't get mad at anything he's doing out there because he's giving it his all.
SI.com: When you watch these games, do you watch purely as a fan, or are there specific things you look for?
Williams: Yeah, I mean when you're a basketball player, you're going to watch the game differently than an average fan. Even if you're not trying to, that's how you are. You just try to analyze things. I just watch the matchups.
SI.com: Lastly, is there a team you like to win it all this year?
Williams: I think it'll be Miami.
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