Deron Williams was beloved for much of his 5 1/2 seasons in Utah.
Williams blossomed into one of the best point guards in the NBA with the Jazz, while leading them to the playoffs to four playoff appearances.
But the final two weeks of his tenure there were particularly tumultuous.
On Feb. 9, Williams got into a heated argument with coach Jerry Sloan during halftime of a home loss to the Bulls. Sloan retired the next day, prompting speculation that his rocky relationship with Williams was the main reason why.
“Maybe arguing was the last straw, so there I am, guilty of that,” Williams said then. “But I think anybody who believes I could force coach Sloan to resign is crazy. He's stronger than that and personally if I said that to him, he'd probably go tell me to go do something.”
On Feb. 23, Williams was completely blindsided when he learned that he’d been traded to the Nets while watching SportsCenter. His wife was nearly ready to give birth to their fourth child, and Williams wasn’t thrilled about the idea of going to a team at the bottom of the standings.
But Williams has since warmed up to the possibility of staying with the franchise long-term, despite making his intentions known that he will opt out prior at the end of the season. He’d be giving up a year and around $30 million on a potential new contract with the Nets if he didn’t, so his decision makes complete sense. Although, speculation continues to swirl about whether he’ll stay or leave and go to Orlando, Los Angeles or Dallas, among the possibilities.
On Saturday, Williams will make his return to Utah.
“I’m excited about it,” Williams said, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. “I get a chance to play in Utah. I spent the first part of my career [there]. They gave me a chance. My first chance, my first opportunity, my first big contract. So I owe them a lot, I’m looking forward to going back and playing.”
Williams was asked how he expects the fans are going to treat him.
“I think it'll be a little bit of mixed reviews, you know mixed emotions,” Williams said, according to the New York Post. “Some people hate me, some people love me. It's what happens in any situation, I guess.”
Williams apparently got upset when a reporter asked him if he would’ve demanded a trade were he still in Utah this season. The Jazz would’ve obviously been in the same situation the Magic are with center Dwight Howard: deal him or risk him walking for nothing.
The Nets will take on the Nuggets in Denver on Wednesday night.
“I'm not Carmelo Anthony. I'm not the Denver Nuggets. I'm not Chris Paul. I'm not the New Orleans Hornets. I'm not Dwight Howard. I'm not the Orlando Magic. I'm not the Utah Jazz anymore, either. I play for the New Jersey Nets, the last time I checked,” Williams said.
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