Deron Williams watches and waits, the anxiousness obvious with each passing day as he looks at the shiny new Nets, unable to fully join in the fun.
Because of a sprained right ankle, Williams has been little more than an observer for the better part of the preseason as he awaits the final go-ahead to ramp up his on-court activities and begin full contact.
It's the final hurdle he has to clear before he's able to play with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the two new pieces the Nets hope will give them a championship pedigree.
"I'm ready to play," Williams said Sunday before the Nets' open practice at Barclays Center. "So it's frustrating having to sit out. It's frustrating having to watch them play games -- even if they are preseason -- and really practice. They've had a lot of battles out there, a lot of practice, and I want to be a part of it. So at times, I feel like I'm not a part of this team because I'm not out there, and I want to be a part of this team. A big part of this team."
Williams remains hopeful he'll play in the Oct. 30 season opener against the Cavaliers. "That's the plan," he said. But whether that's going to happen remains unclear, given that his progress hasn't fallen in line with the original timetable the Nets released last month.
Latest Nets stories
When word of Williams' injury first became public Sept. 18, the Nets said he'd be ready to go in training camp. Now they're starting the final week of the preseason and making exhaustive preparations without their main facilitator.
He's done some 5-on-0 work, but that's been the extent of his participation. So he treads that delicate balancing act between patience and discontent. "Every day it's getting better," he said. "We're just being pre-cautious. Even KG and Paul can tell you, they know how much I want to get on the court right now. So I'm just basically listening to everybody's advice and making sure I'm 110 percent, there's not going to be any lingering effects.
"I don't want to go out here and tweak my ankle and then I'm set back another month. I don't want to do that. So that's what we are doing right now."
Nets coach Jason Kidd hasn't offered much insight into Williams' timetable, other than repeatedly calling him "day-to-day."
There's a part of Kidd that applauds the competitive nature of his floor general, recognizing his eagerness to be on the court.
But Kidd also knows there's a long-term vision in effect. The Nets apparently learned their lesson after Williams' injury woes before the All-Star break a season ago, when he battled an assortment of ailments before finally reaching optimum health in the second half of the season."You always appreciate guys who want to get out there and help their teammates," Kidd said. "When guys are hurt, that's one of the hardest things. The good ones want to get out there and help. But you also want to protect them and make sure that he's ready to go when he does step out there, where it's not an in-and-out situation, where when he is back, he's back for good."
Though he's missing that precious on-court bonding time, Williams is confident that he's keeping up with the Nets' offensive and defensive installations. That, he believes, will make it a bit easier to transition himself into the mix without interrupting any kind of chemistry that's already developed.
"It's just a matter of getting comfortable with the guys," Williams said. "I haven't had a chance to do that yet. But it'll come."
Notes & quotes: Jason Terry (offseason knee surgery) said the plan is for him to make his Nets preseason debut against the Celtics in Boston on Wednesday.
Terry, as one might imagine, is looking forward to it, even it if just happens to be against his old team. "It's going to be fun," he said. "I was only there a year. The fans were great, the city was good to me. So there's no hard feelings, no ill emotions. I'll be able to see some of my friends. Avery Bradley is like a brother to me, so seeing him will be good."