My column in Wednesday’s paper was supposed to be a rather lighthearted look at Deron Williams’ predicament with the Utah Jazz.
After all, he was getting upset about all those DWill-to-New York rumors and they were only just getting started. I wrote that, on Tuesday, I’d joked with him about playing with Carmelo Anthony as members of the New York Knicks.
DWill knew I was kidding around, but even so, he didn’t think it was all that funny, only because he knew he was going to spend the next two years living at the corner of Rumor Ave. and Speculation Blvd.
On one hand, the column was supposed to be lighthearted. But on another level, I was trying point out how Williams had created a real mess for himself here in Utah, what with the whole Jerry Sloan incident/non-incident.
Now, once again, I’m not implying DWill ran Sloan out of town. On the contrary. Rather, I’m saying – for right or wrong – Williams had become the fall guy from the Jazz’s recent struggles. And I also noted that he had painted himself into a corner.
If he were to leave, he’d forever be known as the bad guy who left the Jazz without their Hall of Fame coach and All-Star point guard.
If he were to stay, he’d risk never winning the NBA title he desperately wants.
Well, I wrote that on Tuesday. By Wednesday, it didn’t much matter.
Williams was traded to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and a couple of first-round draft picks.
Suddenly, he didn’t have to worry about the 2012 version of “The Decision.” By trading Williams with time on his contract, the Jazz ripped it right out of his hands (at least as far as they’re concerned).
On the other hand, he’s on his way to a much, much bigger media market, where rumors are created and distributed every day.
That part is going to drive him crazy.
What’s driving Jazz fans crazy is that, 15 days ago, they had a Hall of Fame coach and an All-Star point guard. Now, they have neither.
What they do have, however, is an identity crisis.
I certainly give the Jazz a great deal of credit for being proactive in their decision making. CEO Greg Miller said he had a “gut sense” Williams wouldn’t retire as a Jazzman, that he’d probably leave as a free agent in the summer of 2012.
So, given the chance to get something for Williams now rather than nothing for him later, the Jazz played it safe; it’s hard to argue with that logic.
Of course there’s still that issue of the Jazz’s identity. Who or what is it?
“I hope it continues to be toughness and being a scrappy ballteam that never quits,” Miller said. “Those have always been the hallmarks.”
At that, Miller even used a nice football reference to describe the Jazz during the Sloan era.
“For the 23 years that Jerry was here it was just blocking and tackling,” he said. “It wasn’t really glamorous. It was just get out there and work as hard as you can to make good things happen.”
For the Jazz’s sake, let’s hope that’s a good enough identity because until further notice, that’s all they have.