Josh Newman, SNYNets.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – With Avery Johnson being relieved of his coaching duties by the Nets on Thursday, Deron Williams‘ reputation as a star player prone to driving coaches out of town has only gotten worse.
Williams, who re-signed with the Nets in the offseason for five years and $98.7 million, will not take responsibility for Johnson getting fired, just as he will not take responsibility for Jerry Sloan resigning after 21-plus mostly successful seasons with the Utah Jazz.
“I don’t feel responsible, as far as I was never consulted, nobody ever asked me what I thought they should do with Avery,” Williams said at shootaround on Friday morning. “If they would’ve asked me, I would’ve said he needs to be our coach because he was a big reason why I stayed here. As far as responsibility, I feel like if I would’ve played better, then we would have won a lot more games and he would still be here. As far as that’s concerned, I feel responsible.”
True or not, the perception from some that Williams helped push Johnson out the door, especially given the fact that the point guard said publicly he wasn’t comfortable in Johnson’s isolation-heavy offense earlier this month, will not subside any time soon.
The truth is that if Williams, not to mention other key players, had played better, Johnson would likely still be in charge. Every key offensive stat that put him in the conversation as arguably the best point guard in the NBA only three years ago has gone down and the team has suffered as a result.
“Nobody feels worse about the way I’m playing than me,” said Williams, who is averaging 16.6 points and 8.0 assists per game. “Everyday, I go home and just trying to figure out how to get it going, how to play like I’m used to playing and how I used to play. It just hasn’t clicked yet. My confidence is gone right now and I just gotta play my way out of it, fight my way out of it.”
Additionally, offseason acquisition Joe Johnson has taken a while to get acclimated to his new surroundings. The Williams-Johnson backcourt combination, hailed by many in the preseason as the best in the Eastern Conference, has not yet to put it all together.
The 16.9 points per game Johnson is averaging has risen recently as Johnson has begun to settle in, but it’s nearly a full point lower than his career average. The 16.9 points per game is also his lowest average since 2003-04, his third year in the league.
“I thought he was doing a great job night in and night out of preparing us, doing what we had to do,” Joe Johnson said of Avery Johnson. “I think it’s up to us as players. Coaches can’t play, they can only do so much. It’s up to us as players to really figure out what we want out of this and what kind of team we want to be.”
Josh Newman is SNYNets.com’s Field Reporter. Follow him on Twitter for up to the minute news and banter on all things related to the Brooklyn Nets and the NBA