NEW YORK — Good morning, Deron Williams.
Thanks for coming, have a seat.
We figured it was time to have this chin-wag — even after a decent but disappointing night at the Garden — because you’re a sensitive soul who needs to be approached carefully even when we venture into something intended as a friendly critique.
This has less to do with how you play — which is bad enough, you readily admit nowadays — than how you act, which is just one evening gown shy of a diva. And by now you may have sensed that everyone around you seems unwilling to share their candid observations with you.
We heard you blame your troubles on coach Avery Johnson, and pine for the days when that wise old crank in Utah ran stuff that was better suited to your individual skills.
Trust us: The national response was raucous laughter, because you were the guy responsible for getting Jerry Sloan to decide after 27 years that he’d rather live with his 30 tractors in McLeansboro, Ill., than put up with your insubordination.
Now you say Sloan was best for your career, not to mention the $100 million contract that validates it? That’s rich.
Sure, revisionist history was worth a shot, but our only takeaway was more sympathy for Avery. He’s done what he had to do with this offense: Establish Brook Lopez, get Joe Johnson acclimated quickly, and whatever sugar remains goes to Deron and Gerald Wallace.
Whether the point guard likes it or not is irrelevant. You make it work. You lead.
And when you miss game-winning shots against the Bulls and Knicks, with no defender in the same ZIP code, you blame yourself — period.
Of course, the lack of accountability is also management’s fault. We recall those stories about you finishing practice and heading up to Billy King’s office to plop yourself on the couch — where even the new boss chuckled along when you called yourself “the assistant GM.” Haw!
But if you understand the GM-player relationship, you know this is a problem. Because with the exception of one guy in San Antonio, no player should have this kind of entitlement. Not even LeBron James, who once prided himself on his ability to hold a franchise hostage, would presume to have this kind of influence.
Everyone knows the power you brandish in Brooklyn, and they have no choice but to enable it. But now they wonder whether you’ll understand that it comes with responsibility.
Consider that locker room you whined about last season. You were the captain. What did you do about it, other than complain?
Funny thing: Back then, whenever someone said “best PG,” you automatically thought Chris Paul and D-Will — zero debate. Now, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving and Rajon Rondo reside at the top of that list, and Deron Williams barely cracks the top 10.
“You could easily argue that Raymond Felton is having a better year than Deron,” a former D-3 point guard named Jeff Van Gundy said before this game last night.
Then the ESPN analyst said this: “I’m trying to figure out how this guy, who was among the very best point guards, is shooting the ball so poorly — and it’s not just this year.
“I mean, does he work at it? For all we’ve heard lately from him by way of explanations, eventually shouldn’t you look in the mirror?”
Van Gundy mentioned that he asked you whether being on poor teams affected how you work, and you replied, “No.” You know where that was going: JVG’s favorite work-ethic cautionary tale is about Derek Harper arriving in New York in ’94, and needing Pat Riley to “coach the Dallas out of him.”
See, Harper thought he worked hard, and everyone was thrilled to have him, but he had picked up a laundry list of bad habits with the then-horrid Mavs. He had to be told the stakes had changed, and he had to change with them. It took a while, but ultimately Harp led the Knicks to the NBA Finals.
Anyway, you told Van Gundy that no such lag exists with you — that the 25-42 on your Nets record does not affect your prep in any way. And he believed you.
Then we noticed that your warm-up tonight consisted of about 60 shots in 10 minutes. Sure, it’s the second night of a back-to-back. But 60 shots for a guy shooting .389 and .292 from 3? A guy who has shot .396 since he left Utah?
For the leader of a team that has gone 2-8 this month, including this 100-86 loss at the Garden, with the only victories coming against the Pistons and Raptors?
Hope it was a constructive shootaround, young fella.
For a minute there, you almost got away with it. You had a good first half, and five great minutes to start the third — rhythm shots, ball movement, different speeds — and your team was a plus-8, leading 61-57.
Then, out of a timeout, you forgot to sink in pick-and-roll coverage, which resulted in one of Tyson Chandler’s six dunks; and shot an air ball that made everything go sideways.
Ultimately, it turned into a typical night — for the Nets and their captain. Maybe it changes, maybe it doesn’t. We’re here today to suggest that it’s entirely up to you. Hopefully you agree. Now please get off our couch.