In the aftermath of the Deron Williams trade, many writers — myself included — had doubts about Williams’s long-term prospects in Utah.While Williams was under contract for another season and a half, the fans may have never forgiven him for the role he played in Jerry Sloan’s retirement. That’s one hell of a burden to carry, one that would seemingly dissolve only with a championship.
You can see why, from that standpoint, Williams moving on seemed like a foregone conclusion.
Except as it turns out, the real story was more complicated. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, both Williams and the team had serious misgivings about their future together. Sloan wasn’t the reason for the split but a nice summation of the tensions that had been brewing for some time. First, Williams’s angle:
Deron Williams wanted help. The sinking Jazz needed serious assistance, and he felt the only way aid would arrive would be via a major move before the NBA trade deadline. But Williams also believed it would never happen. The organisation was too predictable, too normal, too stuck in its ways.
And then, this dagger: “Moreover, the All-Star guard did not think Utah had the guts or vision to complete the deal he longed for.” Where in the immediate aftermath, we saw Williams clashing with Sloan, the real issue was a franchise that was cut from the same cloth as its fearless sideline avatar.
Deron Williams was a contemporary NBA player not for being a coach-killer, but for wanting to see his team get proactive, and innovative, about winning. It’s the thinking behind three-year mini-max deals, like the one he and fellow point guard Chris Paul signed.
But wait, what about the Jazz’s side of things? They had their doubts about Williams, too:
But while Williams steamed, the Jazz took stock. Who exactly was this new face of the franchise? Was he truly the one? Championship worthy? John Stockton and Karl Malone-esque? Or just another highly talented but ultimately self-obsessed star who would eventually place himself above his team?
A lot of the concerns about Williams’s ego, or unwillingness to shoulder blame, stemmed from slow-burning trends that only insiders noticed—and which got more pronounced with this unhappy season. It appears, though, that their concern about Williams also stemmed from him simply being a new kind of player, from a different era. That was the most charitable way of reading Sloan’s exit: the game and its culture had finally passed him by. The Jazz, it seems, simply weren’t sure what to do with Deron Williams as the face of their franchise.
Does that mean, then, they are simply waiting around for the second coming of Stockton and Malone? Do they know that those two never won a ring? Deron Williams may not have been perfect, but in the long run, this may be the first of many harsh lessons this franchise learns about life in the 21st century NBA. Jerry Sloan sticking around just prolonged the withdrawal.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.