Nets point guard Deron Williams did not want to say anything he'd end up regretting -- or getting fined for. That's why he skipped out on reporters for the first time all season following his team's 105-100 loss to the Cavaliers on Monday night.
“I wanted to keep my money, so I thought it was better to leave than talk with a hot head,” Williams told reporters Tuesday.
Williams was frustrated that his team failed to finish late in the fourth quarter. In the final minute, he missed a layup and had a crucial turnover. Williams thought Kris Humphries was going to roll to the basket for a layup that would've brought the Nets within one with 13.9 seconds left, but Humphries thought Williams was going to shoot a 3-pointer to try and tie things up, and the ball rolled out-of-bounds.
The miscommunication contributed to the team's third straight loss. The Nets are now 5-17 at home, 15-32 overall and on their way to missing the playoffs again. They haven’t qualified for the postseason since 2006-07.
Williams is likely to miss out on the playoffs for a second straight season since being dealt to the Nets in February of 2011. He had made the postseason four consecutive times with Utah prior to the trade.
“I’m not here to call anybody out,” said Williams, who scored a game-high 28 points and dished out eight assists on Monday night, but shot 8-for-23 and committed five turnovers. “We’re all men. I make mistakes. I made mistakes [Monday night]. There’s nobody to ‘call out.’”
Even though all the losses and injuries have continued to mount, Williams has always been a stand-up guy, willing to answer almost every question from the media this season. But this one, it seemed, was tougher to take than all the others.
“It was frustrating. It was definitely frustrating,” Williams said. “The last two really, having leads [the Nets led by 12 in the fourth quarter on Saturday night and by six early in the final period on Monday night] and then just not getting it done.”
After cooling down, Williams said he’s basically over it.
“It’s all good. It’s already done. It’s a game. Bad games happen. Bad quarters, they happen,” Williams said. “We came in and worked hard [Tuesday]. Coach [Avery] Johnson probably works harder than anybody -- he was really animated, really excited about practice [Tuesday].”
The last two instances certainly aren’t the only times the Nets have let one slip away that they could’ve won.
“We’ve been making the same mistakes all year. We’ve talked about it every day, it seems like it just doesn’t register,” Williams said. “At some point, you hope it would, you know?”
Is it hard to stay positive?
“No, because our motto is ‘We love it.’ So we’ve got to love everything about it,” Williams said.
The 27-year-old All-Star is averaging team-highs of 22.1 points and 8.1 assists for the Nets this season.
He has been stellar in wins (26.9 ppg, 9.1 apg, 44.9 fg pct), but less than stellar in losses (19.8 ppg, 7.6 apg, 39.2 fg pct). Williams has also struggled at home, shooting 40.4 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from 3-point range, compared to 42 percent and 39 percent from downtown on the road.
He was told to change his body language earlier this season, and has tried to adjust, but Williams has always said he hates losing more than anything.
It’s why there has been so much speculation on his future with the Nets. Williams can get more money if he opts out and re-signs with the Nets when they head to Brooklyn -- five years, $109 million compared to four years, $81 million -- but yearns to play for a contender.
The Nets went all-in on their pursuit of Dwight Howard, but came up empty -- for now. As a result, they made what many perceived to be a desperation move at the deadline by trading a top-3 protected 2012 first round pick for Gerald Wallace.
Even though the Nets are moving into $1 billion Barclays Center, the franchise appears to be at a crossroads.
If all goes well, the Nets could have D-Will, Wallace and two first-round picks. But if it doesn’t, they could end up with none of that.
Good luck trying to sell tickets if that’s the case.