December 07, 2010
This obviously won't result in the same sort of attention that, say, LeBron James'(notes) return to Cleveland packs in; mainly because Terrence Williams(notes) might not even warrant any minutes in his return to the New Jersey Nets. But he is, eh, returning to the New Jersey Nets after a two-week stint in the D-League.
The reason this is remarkable, in the most literal sense of that word, is because Williams was the first NBA veteran (or rookie) that had been sent down to the NBA's developmental outfit as a form of punishment. Not to get him reps, away from a team that can't use him. Or to rehabilitate some physical malady.
No, Williams was sent down because he had been late to several practices, buses and planes, he'd been warned repeatedly by Nets coach Avery Johnson, and Avery wasn't having any of it. The problem is, asking the Springfield Armor to do your dirty work, even if there are absolutely no excuses for Williams' behavior, was a cop out by Johnson and the Nets. Avery, like a lot of coaches, doesn't seem to understand that he's not only asked to coach the players who will take 22 charges a week and toss up 300 jumpers after practice, but that he's been given the job to help mold the head cases, too. No excuses for Williams, and Johnson could have handled this much better.
So that looked like a lose-lose, but as we wrote a few weeks ago, this could still turn into a win-win. Though Williams grumbled a bit in his time in Springfield about the media's reaction (he told a reporter that he was "reading on Yahoo! and reading the reporters saying that you were a bad guy as far as attitude-wise," which we didn't say at all; though Williams implies that he read this while he was driving, which longtime readers know infuriates me to no end), but otherwise he said all the right things.
And on the court? He was brilliant.
Twenty-eight points, 11 rebounds, nearly 11 assists per game. Exactly what you'd imagine from a person who could be this game's best all-around bench forward, as he slices his way through the D-League battlers. And on a Nets team featuring a gimpy Devin Harris(notes), and a bench that is nothing to write home about, Williams at his best could be the perfect solution. The guy won't win it this year, but he has Sixth Man of the Year talent. Those D-League numbers were no joke.
Williams appears well on his way to doing his share. Now it's up to Avery Johnson to try to make a great talent into a great player. Which is sort of the point of coaching. It's not always about cheering the guy who took the charge after he's done it. It's about turning everyone else on your team into the guy that wants to take the charge.