D-Will: Nets need to get tougher

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For the first time in a long time, Deron Williams plans to take some time off -- especially from basketball.

“I won’t take too much time,” Williams said Sunday. “Basketball I’ll probably take off for a while. I’ll get back in the weight room probably in a week or two.”

Williams, who had an injury-plagued season up until the All-Star break, when he finally got healthy, had said he regretted not taking breaks over the past two summers. His conditioning was called into question, but toward the end of the season he was playing arguably the best stretch of basketball of his pro career at about 200 pounds.

Williams said he will not require surgery to clean up his ankles, which were inflamed as a result of a bone spur.

“I’m good,” he said.

Williams, 28, who just wrapped up the first year of a five-year, $98 million contract, was disappointed with how his first season in Brooklyn ended.

“Yeah, I mean I felt like we should’ve won this series and been playing still,” Williams said. “It was a season of a lot of ups and downs. We’ve been talking about it all season. So hopefully we say this is a learning experience. I don’t think anyone expected us to win a championship this year, so just bounce back, prepare in the offseason and hope to come back stronger mentally and physically.

“We were kind of going in blind this year, what everything was going to be like. From the arena, the fans to us, how we’re going to play as a group. There’s still a few things we need to figure out, you know. It was a step in the right direction.”

Williams was asked what quality the Nets need more of.

“Toughness,” he replied. "I think that’s what we’ve used a lot. Toughness. I think we got out-toughed in that last series, especially [Saturday], so I think that’s the main thing.”

Williams thinks a coach like his former one in Utah, Jerry Sloan, could get toughness out of his players.

“When I played for Coach Sloan, I think he had that effect -- just the way he coaches and the way he talked to us every day and the way he prepared us for games kind of rubbed off,” Williams said.

Would Williams want to play for Sloan again?

“I would love to,” he replied.

And Phil Jackson?

“Who wouldn’t want to play for Phil Jackson?” he replied.

Regardless, Williams believes the team’s next coach needs to be experienced.

“Yeah, I think so. I think somebody that’s creative on offense and has a good system on defense,” he said. “I haven’t really thought much about it. I think we just need somebody that’s going to lead us, somebody everybody respects for sure; it’s tough.”

That means less isolation and more ball movement.

“When we move the ball and we’re not just iso-ing it,” he said. “Pushing the ball up and down the floor. Getting into a good rhythm, a good flow. I think when we just keep it on one side, the ball kind of sticks, we don’t have success.”

Williams will stay in New York until his children are out of school. Then he and his family will leave.

Williams will be watching the rest of the playoffs. He plans on helping GM Billy King in trying to persuade players to come and play for the Nets.

“To a certain extent,” he said. “There’s only so much we can do with our payroll.”

Williams believes the team’s first-round exit this season will be motivation for 2013-14.

“I think we definitely want to improve on this season. Everything we have, with all the injuries we had, with all the stuff in the media going on, losing a coach -- I think we still finished pretty good,” he said. “We still finished in the four spot. We didn’t have the kind of postseason we wanted to and hoped to and that’s definitely, you know, fuel for next year.”