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Deron Williams shocked by Avery Johnson's firing, gets hammered by pundits

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Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

On Friday, Deron Williams told beat writers what he told Stefan Bondy and Stephen A. Smith Thursday, that he was shocked to hear Avery Johnson was being let go by the Nets. He said he was riding on a stationary bicycle at the PNY Center when Billy King told him the news.

He told Bondy the two never had a fight or an argument and that "I never had any conversation with Billy King about not liking coach, nothing about coach Johnson. Avery was a big reason I came back, because him and Billy. So I was surprised."

Whether he did or didn't, the perception now is that Deron Williams is a "coach-killer," having already been saddled with the blame for Jerry Sloan's resignation two years ago in Utah (although in both cases, there were other circumstances that led to the coach's departure.)

Doesn't matter to Charles Barkley. "What happened happened" he said on TNT Thursday but now the focus has to be on Williams' production. "This is all on Deron Williams right now. It's time to put up or shut up," he said.

Shaquille O'Neal was even tougher. "Sometimes before great players point fingers, they should look in the mirror," O'Neal said. "This is the first time I've heard the guy with the ball at all times say that he doesn't like the offense. My advice is for him to look in the mirror and see if he's doing enough."

Williams will get a chance to redeem himself Friday vs. the Bobcats. Although he is listed as a game time decision, he says he expects to play. Meanwhile, Kris Humphries declined to discuss whether Johnson had reached the players, saying, "I'm not here to talk about the past."