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Deron Williams: "Everyone's pretty much written me off"

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

He said it with a smile, but not a broad one or one that suggested what he was saying was humorous. More an ironic, knowing smile. And you could sense it was paining his pride.

Lenn Robbins had asked Deron Williams if he thought the the point guard had a lot of pressure on him this season.

"I don't have much pressure on me," he said, matter-of-factly. "Everyone's pretty much written me off.  People say I'm never going to be like I was. I'm on the downhill. So what pressure do i have, you know?

"I expect a lot out of me. I'm excited about this season. If this team is going to be good, they need me to play at a high level and I'm excited about that."

Does it bother him, Robbins asked.

"Doesn't really matter. It's what I feel, what my team feels. Like i said, I'm excited about this season."

It's the first time Williams was heard reacting to the almost universal belief that he's had it, that injuries to his wrist and ankles (bone spurs and fragments in both cases, not soft tissue) have sapped his greatness, with some suggesting that he has a bad attitude as well, isn't the leader the Nets needed. Zach Lowe of Grantland, one of the NBA's top writers, suggested this week that the Nets should dump him at the first chance they get.

His teammates and coach have said all the right things about him, physically ... and mentally.

"He looks pretty good. Not pretty good, he looks damn good. [His ankles] don’t seem to be bothering him at all," said Jarrett Jack. "I don’t know how many dunks we’ll see from him this season, but other than that, he’s done a good job. He’s been what I thought he was going to be."

"He’s more vocal this year. He’s back to being D-Will," said backcourt mate Joe Johnson.

"Is he gonna be the 23-year-old Deron Williams? Heck no," Lionel Hollins told Steve Serby. "But the Deron Williams that he can be and I see him being is going to be pretty good. And he’s gonna be one of the top guards in the league, and that’s good enough with me."

Williams also told Robbins, as he told other reporters of how ankle pain had sapped him of his confidence and how now he feels "300 percent better."

The Nets have invested a LOT in D-Will and so far, the investment has paid off minimally: two trips to the playoffs, but nothing special. He has a reputation for being up-and-down, sometimes sulky.  We're about to find out how much of that was the physical affecting the mental.  He has a chance, maybe a last chance, to help them get a return on that investment, change that reputation, even if it doesn't matter.