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Donnie Walsh Was Surprised by the Deron Williams Trade, Too

The Knicks' GM admitted yesterday that he had no idea the Nets were talking to Utah about acquiring Deron Williams, and that in hindsight, he should have realized Jazz might want to start rebuilding following the retirement of Jerry Sloan. (He reportedly even seemed upset with himself for failing to get involved.) Perhaps, in an alternate universe in which Donnie Walsh both knew Williams was available and felt no pressure to acquire Carmelo Anthony, Williams would be running Mike D'Antoni's offense right now and would sign an extension as soon as the collective bargaining agreement allowed him to. But in this universe, it was Anthony who joined the Knicks (and signed an extension), while Williams went to the Nets.

And Williams didn't seem particularly eager to commit to the Nets beyond next season during his introductory press conference yesterday, during which the News points out he "rarely smiled." From the paper:

"I can't really give any assurances, or say that I'll be here - I don't know what the future holds. I look forward to the possibility of it; it's definitely a strong possibility," Williams said of eventually signing with the Nets. "It all depends on how the next year goes - CBA, the type of moves we make and the people we bring into this organization."

That gives Mikhail Prokhorov and Billy King sixteen months to surround Williams with the right people, to sell him on the direction of the team, and to convince him to stick around and remain the face of the franchise when they leave Newark for Brooklyn. That's a lot to ask in a relatively short period of time for a team that's just 17–40. (Williams knew that record off-hand, by the way, and admitted it was the first thing he thought about when he learned of the trade.) If Walsh really wants Williams, and if — business alert — the money works out under the new CBA, he may get another shot at him, sixteen months from now. Knicks fans have learned to be patient. Walsh can just wait along with the rest of us.

Knicks president Donnie Walsh kicks himself for not thinking of trying to acquire Deron Williams [NYDN]
While Nets hope Deron Williams will be the face of the franchise, All-Star hints he may not stay [NYDN]

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Photo: Bill Kostroun/AP