Follow the Nets' return to New York with Newsday's Rod Boone.
Deron Williams encouraged, unsure about playing in preseason finale
Coral Gables, Fla. -- Just for kicks, after he'd wrapped up his second full contact practice of the preseason Thursday afternoon, Deron Williams threw down a pair dunks.
First, Williams playfully dunked right-handed and then proceeded to do a reverse, testing his right ankle and doing so knowing the assembled media was in clear view. It may sound like nothing, but those pair of dunks represented yet another step in Williams' progression.
"It was my first day really trying," Williams said following practice at the University of Miami. "I think a lot of my stuff has been in my head, just getting over that mental factor. Once I did the 5-on-5 [Tuesday], that was a big step for me mentally. When I was just doing 5-on-0, I'm just aware of everything, I'm trying not to do this, I'm trying not to do that. I'm nervous. So once I got out there, my instincts took over and I realized I'm fine."
Williams' status for Friday's preseason finale against the Heat is in doubt. He was never truly expected to play given the Nets' cautious approach with him in training camp, and although he kind of jokingly hinted Wednesday that he'd like to be out there, he knows it's all about playing it smart at this point.
Particularly with the season opener versus the Cavaliers six days away.
When asked if he'll give it a go in Miami, Williams said: "I don't know about that. I've still got to wake up tomorrow and see how it feels. I think we'll determine that, but I don't know. We didn't even talk about it. We just finished practice, so we didn't even talk about it [yet]."
Nets coach Jason Kidd seemed encouraged by the progressing health of his point guard, who reported no pain or issues in the aftermath of his previous two days of work. But Kidd wasn't sure whether he'd let Williams take the court with the Nets' other four starters, who will get a little game action in since it's their final tuneup before their opener.
"It's still up in the air," Kidd said. "He did most of everything today. He felt better and then after practice, you guys have talked to him, so he feels good. We'll see how he feels tomorrow and then we'll go from there."
Williams was thrilled just to be fully running up and down the court. It's been a minute since he's been able to do that.
"Really I haven't played basketball since the Bulls series," he said. "So that's tough. It's almost like learning how to jump again in different directions because it's not just about going staight. It's the unexpected stuff."
Brook Lopez sure liked what he saw out of Williams.
"Man, it was great," Lopez said. "He looked as good, if not better than ever. He was explosive out there, pushing the ball and everything and really getting our guys going and bringing energy."
And just what did Williams think of running with the starters?
"I felt like we had a good little rhythm, man," Williams said. "Like I said, I'm not worried getting in a rhythm with those guys because they know how to play. Everybody knows how to play, so I think they are going to have to wait for me to catch up, knowing that I'm worried about where everybody likes to be, where everybody likes the ball. I don't have a good grasp on if we run this play for Paul [Pierce], where I need to be, where he needs to be yet.
"That's the stuff I'm trying to work on. It's just about being out there and getting familiar with it."