All the beleaguered Nets point guard can do now is look at his time at Utah as glory days. He is not the same player the Nets thought they were getting when they acquired him from the Jazz three years ago.
Truth be told, Williams’ best days are behind him. He has had ankle surgeries and knee injuries, and that has limited him to attack the rim and settle for jumpers. He misses shots when it matters. He does not play defense. This is not what the Nets signed up when they signed him to a five-year, $98 million deal couple of years ago.
Williams is a bust, and the Nets still have to pay him for three more years after this season. They will try to trade him this summer, but they are going to be hard-pressed to find a team who wants to pay his salary for a guy that has lost it. No team wants to pay him 19 million next year and 20 million two years from now.
The Nets are stuck with him for all intents and purposes.
They have tried hard to get Williams back on track. They hired Jason Kidd as head coach in an attempt to get the most of their mercurial point guard. They acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to bring toughness and confidence in him. Nothing has worked.
The Nets point guard was inconsistent for most of the season. He struggled to start the season, but he played better in January and February. He was a streaky player, but that’s not what the Nets are paying him to do. They want him to be a game-changer every game. They want him to give great moments for the Nets.
It was hard to come up with a great moment that Williams gave until this year’s playoffs. His best moment as a Net came from scoring 23 points in Game 6 against the Raptors that helped the Nets stave off elimination. His second best moment was when he played good defense on Kyle Lowry in Game 7, especially when he shadowed the Raptors point guard that help set the stage for Paul Pierce to make that block.
Before his playoff series against the Raptors, he never really had one. His supporters will say he outplayed Jeremy Lin by scoring 38 points against him at Madison Square Garden couple of years ago. That was at the time where Linsanity was born. Sorry, but outplaying a point guard who had his three weeks of fame is nothing to brag about.
Williams could have made up for three bad seasons by having a great playoff series against the Heat. If he was playing well, no one would be talking about his poor play.
He has not helped his cause, though. He has been a non-factor in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He hasn’t put the Nets in a position to win games against Miami. He hasn’t brought grit and toughness against Miami. He hasn’t made shots when it mattered in this series. His defense has been laughable.
In Game 2, Williams had zero points on 0-for-9 shooting. That’s hard to do for a player that logged on many minutes. That’s hard for a player of his ability. He’s not great, but he has to be horrible to score zero points. He never gave the Nets any spark.
In Game 3, he scored nine points on 3-for-11 shooting. Talk about his 11 assists, but those were pedestrian numbers. It’s not like he had them going when the Nets were shooting well. He was standing around and doing nothing when he was on the court.
In Game 4, he scored 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting. This was a game where he struggled to make shots down the stretch. He turned the ball over in the fourth quarter, too. In other words, he did nothing.
In Game 5, he scored 17 points on 7-for-16 shooting. That was his best performance of the series, but he failed when it mattered when he couldn't make a shot to offset Miami's 13-3 run in the fourth quarter.
Overall, he shot 1-for-11 in the fourth quarter of the second-round series.
Go ahead and blame Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, but they are not the players they used to be anymore. All they can do is getting by with guile and grit. This is where Williams has to be the game-changer. They can’t rely on him doing the little things or showing intangibles as his defenders keep citing.
It’s hard to believe he can get it done now when he has showed he can’t. For him to do this for three games in a row is impossible. My chances of winning the lottery are better.
His problems won’t go away. This is going to be a problem as long as he is wearing the Nets uniform. These performances for the last three years are no longer a sample size or a trend. It’s troubling a 29-year-old point guard is playing like he is 37 years old at the end of his career.
The Nets have to wonder privately if Williams is salvageable. They did all they could to help him with nothing to show for it. They have to wonder what else they can do.
It’s hard to think they can do anything more. If a player stinks for three straight years, he is a lost cause. It’s not just Williams’ productivity that is done, but his sore ankles will hinder him to be the best he can be.
No wonder the Nets are thinking about trading their once star.
If they can trade him, Nets president of basketball operations Billy King should receive a three-year extension just for finding a sucker to take on his salary, his surly attitude and his horrible game.
Good luck to him pulling it off.