As the story’s told, Nets swingman Terrence Williams ticked off his coach, and rather than actually deal with the problem (Williams’ great crime? Unpunctuality.) internally, Avery Johnson “punished” Williams with a stint in the D-League. That story has been qualified and rebuffed, but the initial report still stings.
An assignment in the D-League isn’t a “time-out” sentence. The D is a valuable asset to NBA teams for a number of reasons, but it isn’t a disciplinary tool for when Johnson doesn’t feel like addressing whatever he deems to be a significant problem. What’s worse: even if the reports indicating that Williams was assigned to the D-League for disciplinary reasons were exaggerated or misleading, the damage has been done. For some reason the story led to that particular conclusion, and though Williams was technically the one punished, it’s the D-League as a whole that suffers for this decision.
On the bright side, Williams’ unfortunate — but successful — stint with the D-League’s Springfield Armor has come to a close. According to John Schuhmann of NBA.com, Williams has been recalled by the Nets, but it’s not certain whether he’ll be available for New Jersey’s game against Atlanta tonight. Williams averaged 28 points (on 42.6% shooting), 10.7 rebounds and 10.7 assists during his three games with Springfield, showing off every bit of his considerable talent. There was never a question of Williams’ potential, and his NBA-level skills sliced and diced the D-League competition.
Still, Williams clearly hasn’t started the season on Avery Johnson’s good side, and he won’t see the same opportunities in New Jersey that he did with Springfield. His situation with the Nets is definitely worth watching this season. Things have gotten a bit rocky for Williams, and though his abilities are impressive, Johnson is exactly the kind of coach who would bury Williams in the rotation for not playing by his rules.