This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The circumstance surrounding the trade that ticked off Deron Williams was perfect symbolism, whether he thought about it in that exact way or not. He certainly got his version of the overall concept, and did not approve.
The Jazz, on the plane, ready for takeoff, ready to soar through the skies, in the middle of a 15-of-17 hot streak, and suddenly Ronnie Brewer gets bounced off the jet, told to grab his bag and find a commercial flight to ... where's this, Memphis? And Williams and his teammates are given two seconds to say goodbye to their friend, and now forge ahead one body down.
Why? To save money? To get some kind of dubious protected asset two years from now?
The Jazz's engines already were all warmed up, prepared to blast the team upward and onward.
That's the way Williams saw it, and, so, he was mad. Not to the point where he would pout or cause any kind of competitive problem -- the Jazz went ahead and beat Golden State the next night, further boosting them up the Western Conference standings.
But he openly complained, even though Brewer isn't a great player.
You've heard or read the comments by now:
"I think if we'd make a trade it would be something a little different than that," he said. "You look at all the teams that are getting better around the West and we essentially get worse, if you ask me."
He added that all the players were angry about the deal.
Then he dropped the big bomb, when he was asked if the trade altered his view of staying in Utah over the long haul: "That's why I [only] signed a three-year deal."
Williams is the one player the Jazz cannot lose. He is the foundation for the present and the future, and if he were to walk, they would be forced not only to start over, but to duck and cover from the fallout of such an explosion. Talk about symbolism, what would it say around the league if the Jazz can't keep what is theirs?
Especially if what is bugging theirs is that he believes the Jazz are not really in the business of winning a championship, rather only in the business of winning enough to stay in business.
There are three issues here: 1) Are the Jazz really looking for a title? 2) Should management consult with and take under advisement the wishes of their franchise player? 3) Should Williams have aired his comments publicly?
In reverse order, the answers are:
3) If he feels so inclined, 2) Yes, 1) Sort of.
Popping off might not have been the most seasoned thing for Williams to do, but the man is an emotional competitor, and he wants to win badly. He's not satisfied to collect his huge paychecks and be content. He speaks his mind because he's good, and that empowers him to do so.
The Jazz might not have counseled with Williams on the Brewer trade, but, if they didn't, they should have. He's as important, right now, as anybody on the bench or in the front office. Treat him that way.
Greg Miller, on the same day Brewer was traded, wondered aloud whether a small-market team like the Jazz could overcome the advantages of big outfits such as the Lakers, pointing out the Spurs are the only such team to win a title in 26 years.
But he strongly added the Jazz are in the business of winning, that they are willing to take risks, that they are looking for ways to get better.
That's all what Deron Williams wants, including the title.
GORDON MONSON hosts the "Monson and Graham Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 1280 AM The Zone. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.