"I don't even want to talk about [the past]. It's night and day from a couple years ago," Williams said Tuesday, the day before the new-look Nets open their 2013-14 regular season in Cleveland against the Cavaliers.
When Williams was traded to the Nets from Utah on Feb. 23, 2011, they were bad. They lost. A lot. His frustration mounted.
But then they moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn, and everything changed. They got better, which made him want to stay.
Williams, who signed a five-year, $98 million extension, was plagued by ankle injuries and weight issues for the majority of last season, which ended with a Game 7 loss to the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.
Now, he appears to be healthier, nearly recovered from the sprained right ankle injury that limited him during the preseason.
Nets general manager Billy King brought in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to take some of the leadership burden off Williams' shoulders. They certainly aren't Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries. Williams can feel confident passing them the ball.
His really good friend, Jason Kidd, is his coach. The isolation-heavy offense the Nets used to run is no more.
Everything he needs, it seems, he has. So it's time for Williams to get back to being one of the best point guards in the NBA. No excuses.
"I'm excited. Who wouldn't be excited about this team?" Williams said. "We have a great group of guys, not only on the court, but in the locker room. We're having a lot of fun playing together, being around each other. That's all you can really ask for. We're just having fun. It's our fun. It's our job. We take it very seriously. But at the same time, we're having fun. We like to enjoy it. It's going to be an enjoyable year, a fun ride."
These days, Williams has a greater appreciation for success.
"You take things for granted. You take players for granted that you played with," he said. "You start nitpicking at what people can do instead of what they can't do. So you definitely take it for granted. I think a lot of guys have to go through that to really understand. I've never really been one of those guys that needed to be the man or wanted to be the man. My problem in Utah is I wanted to win so badly and letting it get the better of me. So I'm excited for this group right now."
He is ready to be "the engine" the Nets expect him to be. He's got all sorts of offensive weapons: Brook Lopez down low, KG facilitating out of the high post, Pierce creating from the top of the key, Joe Johnson's spot-up shooting ability from anywhere on the floor.
"I know I can't do it by myself. I'm not LeBron James. I'm not a 6-8 dominant force. I'm a point guard who if I have shooters with me and a good big man, I can get the ball, I can facilitate and I can score when I'm needed," Williams said. "And so, that's how I’ve played, that's how I like to play, and now I can get back to playing like that."
He'll be doing so in an offense that suits his style.
"It's kind of like college for me because we ran motion offense," Williams said. "That's basically what we did. We pass, screen away, we just kind of free flowing, a lot of movement. When you have a lot of movement things can happen because everybody's occupied. The defense can't really get set."
Williams owns career averages of 17.8 points and 9.9 assists. He's a lifetime 45.3 percent shooter. The Nets would be well-served this season if their 29-year-old floor general hits those numbers. And he'll have every opportunity to do so.
"I'm excited for him," Kidd said. "For him, I think he needs to get back to where he's having fun and being healthy. If you're healthy, I think that starts the process of having fun."