Blog Entry

Deron Williams: No one wanted to play in Utah

Posted on: March 27, 2011 6:32 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2011 6:39 pm
New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams says that he tried and failed to recruit players to play for the Utah Jazz. Posted by Ben Golliver.


One of the NBA's great marketing successes of the last decade has been the degree to which it has encouraged its teams to engage with and give back to their local communities. But behind all of the NBA Cares commercials is a bleak reality: not every NBA market is created equal in the eyes of its players, a fact that is getting more evident by the year as the league's stars continue to flex their considerable influence in determining where they play.

The case of New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams is particularly telling. Williams was said to be frustrated in Utah and seeking a move to the New York Knicks in the future. However, once the Jazz came to terms with his long-term lack of commitment to their organization, they quickly moved Williams to the New Jersey Nets prior to the trade deadline. 

One byproduct of that trade? Williams is now free to speak honestly about the situation in Utah. He doesn't paint a pretty picture, admitting to the New York Daily News that he couldn't convince anyone to join him in Salt Lake City.
"That was the hardest thing for me," he says of playing recruiter for the Jazz. "I tried every summer. I played with the best guys year after year and guys that were becoming free agents and asked if they wanted to come play with me and they're like, 'In Utah?'"
"I tried to tell people it's a great city. If you want to go out and party every night, it's not where you want to be. It's a clean city. There's a lot to do for families. The fans are great. Great foods. Great restaurants. The only thing it didn't have is partying."
While that statement doesn't paint the average NBA free agent in the best light, it's an even harsher (yet accurate) assessment of the reality facing many small-market teams who compete for the same free agents year after year. Any player worth a damn who reaches free agency will have the same offer available to him from multiple teams. Williams' point is that the Jazz, who have been a model franchise for decades, simply lagged behind in a crucial tie-breaker that they will never be able to remedy: desireability of location. Given recent trends, it's virtually impossible to argue with what he's saying, as desireable cities -- New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago -- have stockpiled the best talent.

The Sacramento Kings' proposed relocation to Anaheim will make for an interesting test case of Williams' analysis. The analysis regarding Sacramento's expected move to Southern California has largely focused around the team's desire to play in a slightly better building and to reach a much larger television audience, but isn't it possible that the Kings would instantly become bigger players in the free agency game simply by virtue of a new zip code? The Kings will have plenty of cap space this summer, a young core in place to build around and will no longer be in an NBA backwater, instead playing within spitting distance of one of the world's most idealized cities. That should seriously help them land someone big this summer or next summer, right?

In any case, Williams' talk is indicative a fundamental imbalance, and it's a part of the league's push in its recent labor negotiation rhetoric towards leveling the playing field for all 30 teams. While the NBA can't make Salt Lake City's nightlife more enticing, it can certainly do a better job of helping small-market teams retain their best players and compete for free agents.

Since: Jun 29, 2009
Posted on: March 27, 2011 9:30 pm

Deron Williams: No one wanted to play in Utah

On one hand you have philanthrapic D-Will, on the other hand you have an ex-utah player bashing his old team.  Grow up, Deron.  We all know you weren't happy in Utah, there's no need to tear down the organization in the process.  When you dress like a sheep and act like a wolf, everyone sees right through you. 

Since: Mar 27, 2011
Posted on: March 27, 2011 9:13 pm
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Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: March 27, 2011 8:54 pm

Deron Williams: No one wanted to play in Utah

Sacramento to Anaheim?  Talk about a saturated market, that sounds really lame. Utah could be a good place to live for some players, who like the outdoors or who have families. You can't bash a 25 year old, single male for not wanting to live there though. People that age want to go out and have fun, doesn't make them hoodlums, there's plenty of people on here who did the same stuff when they were younger.

Since: Mar 27, 2011
Posted on: March 27, 2011 8:51 pm

Deron Williams: No one wanted to play in Utah

good food .I am excited!!!

Since: Aug 26, 2006
Posted on: March 27, 2011 8:49 pm

Deron Williams: No one wanted to play in Utah

Deron Williams was good for Utah.  I love Jerry Sloan, but he wasn't going to be here forever and the whole chain of events leading to Williams' ouster seemed a little knee-jerk to me.  If they were going to lose him to free-agency, then good job getting something, but if it was a scenario where they thought the P.R. to revive Williams' image was too daunting, they should have waited.  Williams wouldn't have remained a pariah for very long, at least with the more sensible fan base.  I think we've got a long, tough row to hoe now.  I don't see us recovering for a long time.

Since: Jul 9, 2008
Posted on: March 27, 2011 8:43 pm

Deron Williams: No one wanted to play in Utah

Too bad there aren't many Mormons who play in the NBA..

Since: Mar 15, 2011
Posted on: March 27, 2011 8:26 pm

Deron Williams: No one wanted to play in Utah

I wonder why Toronto isn't one of the more appealing cities to the players. I guess being a different country (although it's unofficially an extension of the States har har) plays a HUGE role but from what I hear, they have a great nightlife, a huge cultural diversity, etc. I've been to Toronto before and I have to say, it was an amazing time there with so much to do both during the daytime and at nighttime.

Since: Sep 16, 2006
Posted on: March 27, 2011 8:05 pm

Deron Williams: No one wanted to play in Utah

Sounds to me like NBA players are more worried about partying than anything else. It also sounds to me like Williams liked being there and tried convincing other players its a great place to be, but that they would need to curb thier desires to party quite a bit. He said nothing negative about Utah.

Since: May 17, 2008
Posted on: March 27, 2011 7:12 pm

Deron Williams: No one wanted to play in Utah

To be fair, it doesn't really sound like William's was criticizing the city/state....just saying he tried and failed to get other top players to come to Utah so that Utah could build a real championship contender.  If that is the case, I can't blame him for looking for a better situation that you can Lebron James and/or Carmelo Anthony although I don't like how any of the three really went about doing it.

Since: Aug 17, 2007
Posted on: March 27, 2011 6:40 pm

Deron Williams: No one wanted to play in Utah

Well Deron Williams no one in Utah wanted you anymore! You sure did hit the bottom this season with running off Jerry Sloan!

Good ridance to you! LOSER!

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