This year’s NBA Finals have a certain New York flavor. It features several Knicks and Nets on the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers roster.
The ex-Knicks that play for the Cavaliers are Channing Frye, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Derrick Williams while the only ex-Knick that is playing for the Warriors is Matt Barnes, who only played six forgettable games in the 2005-2006 season.The ex-Net that is playing for the Warriors is Shaun Livingston while the Cavaliers feature two ex-Nets in Richard Jefferson and Deron Williams.
Even though no one in town cares about the Nets, Williams should be an interesting subplot to this Finals. He orchestrated two departures from the Jazz and Nets to play for a NBA title contender. He is getting his chance with the Cavs this year.
This is likely Williams’ last shot of a championship. He is a free agent after this season, and with the way he has played the last few years, he could be retiring after the Finals are over. No team would want his services since he is washed up, and it seems he is tired of the NBA life. This has to be on his mind in his first Finals appearance whether he admits it or not.
He played in Game 1 of the Finals Thursday night in the Cavaliers’ 113-91 loss to the Warriors, and it was a forgettable experience for him. He did not score in his 19 minutes on the court, and he turned the ball couple of times. He was basically standing around on defense, and he didn’t seem interested to play by not wanting the ball when he was on offense.
If we are lucky, we don’t see any more of Williams playing in the Finals. It would mean the Cavaliers are giving the Warriors a battle each game. Having the disgraced Net making an appearance would be an equivalent of the Cavs saying “No mas!” after another Warriors beatdown.
One can’t help but feel sorry for the 32-year-old point guard. At one time, he was compared to Chris Paul as to who is the best point guard in the 2005 draft. Remember Williams was drafted at No. 3 while Paul was drafted at No. 4. Now, that comparison is laughable.
Williams has been ineffective the minute the Jazz traded him to the Nets in 2011. He struggled to shoot, and his defense has been porous. His best Nets moment was outplaying Jeremy Lin in a Nets’ victory against the Knicks, and that does not say much since Linsanity was a one-hit wonder.
The washed-up point guard will be remembered for being a moody Net. He clearly did not want to play with the Nets. He wasn’t a fan of the New York lifestyle, and he did not like dealing with the New York media and fans. He wasn’t well-liked by his own teammates, and players such as Shaun Livingston, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and several others have called him out for his awful play and his surly attitude. Basically, he was another small-market player that was a poor fit for a city as big as New York.
There was so much losing and so much coaches hired and fired in Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo. In Jason Kidd’s case, he bailed on the Nets after one year knowing he could not win with Williams and that aging roster.
Williams did not get along with Lionel Hollins, either, but this time, the Nets released him rather than deal with his nonsense anymore. His lack of productivity was not worth the trouble.
To say Williams ruined this Nets franchise is an understatement. The Nets traded draft picks to acquire players such as Gerald Wallace, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in order to appease this troubled Net. It never worked out. The 2012 draft pick that the Nets traded to the Portland Trail Blazers for Wallace turned out to be Damian Lillard, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph, Keith Bogans and Wallace that the Nets traded to the Celtics for Pierce, Garnett and Jason Terry turned out to be the Boston Celtics’ No. 1 draft pick in the 2017 draft. Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.
It was a marriage that turned into a divorce for Williams and Nets when both said hello to each other. There were no happy endings. The best both could do is participate in the playoffs. They only got past the first round ounce, and they never participated in the Eastern Conference finals.
Both would want to forget the experience. It turned out to be one of the dark days for this woebegone franchise, and it started the end of Williams’ best days.
The former Net tried to get his game going by returning home to Dallas as he signed a deal with the Mavericks. He never got better. He couldn’t shoot, and his defense was a joke. It was sad to watch.
It’s hard to think it’s going to get better when it hasn’t been good for years now. This is who Williams is at the wrong side of 30. He has accepted it. He did not get much minutes as a Cavalier to begin with. He only played 19 minutes with the game turning into garbage time.
If the former Jazz star gets any minutes on the court for the rest of the Finals, it’s not a good thing since it would mean the Cavs are getting their brains beaten in by the Warriors. He offers nothing to the Cavaliers.
Maybe he gets a championship, but even then it would be meaningless for him since he did nothing to contribute other than being a warm body on the Cavs roster.
This is what he is in his finishing days of his career. It’s a sad story for a point guard who was on track to be in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Instead, he will be thinking about what could have been.
If Game 1 of the Finals was the last game of Williams’ career, it would be a tragedy for a player that had so much promise.