Utah Jazz: It’s Time for Deron Williams to Come Home

Feb 1, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Deron Williams (8) warms up before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 1, 2017; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Deron Williams (8) warms up before the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Editorial — rumors abound that the Utah Jazz could be looking to reacquire Deron Williams from the Dallas Mavericks. I, for one, think it’s time for him to return to the fold.

If you’re a Utah Jazz fan, your particular corner of the Twittersphere probably went bananas on Tuesday. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. In a matter of hours, the scene changed from the Jazz pursuing Lou Williams to a Sweet Lou/Houston Rockets deal to the mother of all trade rumors — a Deron Williams return to Utah.

It’s the latter story that really turned Jazz Nation on its ear. Even now, more than half a decade after the Jazz banished him to the then-New Jersey Nets, Williams remains perhaps the most polarizing figure in Jazz lore.

While a large contingent of Jazz fans still have a lot of love for D-Will and what he accomplished in Utah, an equally large and infinitely more vocal segment of the fanbase would say that he forced Jerry Sloan into retirement. Or that he sent the team spiraling into a years-long rebuild.

And yet, here we sit on the eve of the NBA Trade Deadline and Williams’ return to Utah is closer to becoming reality than it’s ever been. According to reports, no deal is imminent, but D-Will trade chatter is seeping into the ether.

In other words…

Related Story: Trade Rumor: Utah Jazz Interested in a D-Will Return?

So what’s my advice to Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey amid this D-Will hubbub? In the words of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, “Make it so!”

While Dante Exum is starting to come on and needs continued minutes to progress, the Jazz could use another proven hand in the backcourt. Basketball Insiders’ Ben Dowsett hit the nail on the head with this tweet

Williams’ addition wouldn’t necessarily knock Exum back out of the rotation either. His size, shooting and playmaking ability make him a viable option at either guard spot. This would allow him to share the court with Exum or starting point guard George Hill, both of whom also possess the ability to play off-ball.

And even now, as injuries and age have slowed his roll somewhat, Williams continues to produce.

Offensively, his output has dwarfed that of Exum, as well as Shelvin Mack and Raul Neto. Per 36 minutes, he’s averaging 16 points and 8.4 assists this season. Mack, whose numbers come closest to Williams’ output, averages 12 and five by the same measure. D-Will also boasts a higher PER (15.3, while the crowd is at or under 10).

Going beyond the basic numbers, Williams provides something that doesn’t show up on a stat sheet. 12 years in the league and 72 career playoff games. It’s kind of experience that could really come in handy as the playoff race heats up.

Having said all of that, the thing that gets my goose is that Williams continues to be a Utah guy. To this day, he and his family own a home in the state. And during his dog days in Brooklyn, he talked openly about his Utah ties, praising the state’s family-friendly environment.

From the New York Post —

"“Truth is, we enjoy getting away from the hustle and bustle and going back to Utah every summer,” said Williams, who lives in Tribeca. “It’s a relief to take that timeout. No traffic. No crowds. My daughters still have their friends there. There’s a big backyard. They go to the pool, the playground, and they jump on the trampoline. Kids running wild and free here…? I don’t think so.”"

On multiple levels, Williams’ return to the team that drafted him just makes sense.

Nevertheless, the former Jazzman’s detractors are already bemoaning the possibility on social media.

The main point of contention for the Anti-Williams crowd is the notion that he directly caused Sloan’s resignation. We’ll likely never know the ins and outs of the Jazz locker room at that time, but Sloan himself has denied this.

Following his decision to step down, Sloan said, “I’ve had confrontations with players since I’ve been in the league. There’s only so much energy left and my energy has dropped.” The statement rings true; Sloan was nearly 70 at that point and in his 23rd year at the helm of the franchise.

And after multiple playoff berths and two NBA Finals appearances, the team had finally begun to descend.

Asked point-blank if Williams’ behavior forced him to leave, he replied, “I forced myself out.” For his part, D-Will was taken aback by the suggestion. “I would never force Coach Sloan out of Utah,” he said at the time. “He’s meant more to this town, more to this organization than I have by far. I would have asked out of Utah first.”

Of course, there’s still that Godron Hayward situation.

When Utah’s current star player was just a rookie, he was very publicly the target of Williams’ ire during a blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns in 2010. On the play in question, a young Hayward failed to cut properly in the offense. Williams responded by launching the ball at him in disgust and screaming at him following a timeout for the world to see on TNT.

More from The J-Notes

Admittedly, it wasn’t a good look for D-Will, but the point guard quickly apologized for his behavior (which, again, happened some six years ago). What’s more — before a game between the Jazz and the Mavs in December, Williamshad some kind words for Hayward. “He’s probably an All-Star this year,” he told ESPN at the time.

“He’s definitely developed into a go-to player and a No. 1 option for a playoff team.”

I also doubt highly that Hayward sits around and stews over a bad experience he had more than a half-decade ago. Let’s give the parties involved some credit here, shall we? Along that same vein, I’m not overly concerned about the history between Williams and Joe Johnson either.

The two reportedly didn’t get along when they were Nets teammates. And when Williams eventually was bought out, Johnson made some curious comments about it.

From Newsday

"“I didn’t see that coming, him getting bought out. I don’t think it was that bad. It’s not that bad here, so to be wanting to get bought out, I couldn’t really put my fingers around that one.”"

I wonder if, in hindsight, Johnson can see why the situation in Brooklyn was less than awesome for Williams. After all, there’s a reason that team is in the situation they’re in currently. Furthermore, Williams and Johnson are both older now and at different stages of their career.

Is it unreasonable to believe that professionalism, cooler heads and winning might prevail? I think not.

So before the trade deadline hits on Thursday afternoon, I, for one, would like to see the prodigal son return. For a chance at redemption and for the success of the Jazz, it’s time for Deron Williams to come home.