Deron Williams Makes Nets Debut Against Spurs
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(AP) — After failing to acquire one All-Star prior to the trade deadline, New Jersey was able to land another. That still might not be enough to help the Nets win in San Antonio for the first time in more than nine years.
Deron Williams is expected to make his Nets debut Friday night when they try to avoid a ninth consecutive road defeat to the Spurs, who have not lost at home in almost three months.
When New Jersey (17-40) lost out on Carmelo Anthony this week, it moved fast to acquire the two-time All-Star point guard from Utah on Wednesday for Devin Harris, rookie Derrick Favors, two first-round draft picks and $3 million in cash in a deal that stunned most of the league, including Williams.
“Very rarely are you able to trade for someone who is arguably the best at his position,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “We had to give up a lot, but when you get a chance to get him, you go for it. It wasn’t a planned trade.
“This wasn’t a plan B. He’s a plan A guy. We eventually had to do something like this to get a player of this skill level.”
The club hopes Williams can be the focal point when it moves into the new Brooklyn arena for the 2012-13 season, but Williams said he will not make a decision on whether to opt out of his contract with the Nets until next season. The sixth-year veteran is scheduled to make $17.7 million in 2012-13, but can walk away from that deal after 2011-12.
The Nets would rather focus on Williams helping them avoid a fourth straight loss in their first game since the All-Star break.
Though Williams apparently had his issues with recently retired Utah coach Jerry Sloan, he averaged a career-high 21.3 points with 9.7 assists for the Jazz this season.
“Whatever his relationship with coach Sloan, that will not have any affect on our relationship,” Johnson said. “I have never had a point guard with Deron’s talent level and skill level. I’ve coached some terrific guys, but with the package he brings to the table, we’re really excited.”
Johnson hopes Williams can pay immediate dividends for the Nets, who have averaged 80.3 points during an eight-game skid in San Antonio dating to a 92-86 win there Jan. 22, 2002.
Williams has averaged 20.0 points his last six games at San Antonio and scored a season-high 39 against the Spurs in Utah on Jan. 26.
The Nets have lost 15 of 16 overall to San Antonio (47-10), including 102-85 at home Feb. 14.
Manu Ginobili had 22 points in that contest and 21 in a 97-85 win over New Jersey in the teams’ last meeting in San Antonio on Jan. 10, 2010.
The All-Star swingman had just 11 points, but Tony Parker added 20 and Gary Neal 19 off the bench as the Spurs improved to 26-2 at home with a 109-105 win over Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
Owner of the NBA’s best record, San Antonio has a chance to win 20 straight at home for the first time in a season since Nov. 11-1989-Feb. 6, 1990.
“It’s great, it’s been big, the homecourt,” Ginobili told the Spurs’ official website. “But it’s just a stat.”
Parker has totaled 46 points the last two games.
Updated February 24, 2011
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