Although the team had high hopes with him in 2012, signing him to a five-year, $98.7 million deal, the Brooklyn Nets now admit guard Deron Williams is no longer a franchise player.
Coach Lionel Hollins made it official on Saturday (May 2), a day after the Nets were eliminated from the playoffs.
“He’s not a franchise player anymore,” the coach said. “He’s a good player, he’s a solid player, but I don’t think he’s a franchise player anymore. That’s just my opinion. He’s a good player. I’m proud of the way he’s bounced back and played, and there’s so much pressure on him to be a franchise player, and everybody talks about a franchise player, but we need to have a franchise team.
“That means we have everybody going out there and playing hard, playing together, sharing the ball. If a guy is open, he makes a shot. If a guy is not open, he passes to another guy and he makes the shot,” Hollins continued. “To me, that’s what basketball is about. It’s not about a franchise player. I mean, those guys come along once in a lifetime, and everybody doesn’t get a chance to coach one. When you don’t have one, you can’t say you can’t win. There are teams that have won championships without franchise players, what everyone considers a franchise player. I’m not worried about that. That’s something you guys talk about and worry about. I worry about us going out there and playing hard, playing together and trying to scratch and claw to win a game. That’s what it’s all about.”
This comes just five years after NBA general managers voted Williams the best point guard in the league. However, his tenure with the Nets hasn’t played out well. He’s struggled with both injuries and inconsistency.
During the Nets’ first-round series loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Williams averaged just 11.8 points and 5.5 assists while shooting 39.1 percent from the field.
The 30-year-old is owed $21 million next season and $22.3 million in 2016-17, that is, if he doesn’t opt out of the final year of his contract. So, trading Williams could be difficult.