Deron Williams has finally come home. Three years later than expected, and under very different circumstances than expected, but #DeronToDallas is successful nevertheless.
But how did we get here?
Williams has fallen a long ways. It's difficult to imagine it now, but it was just a few years ago that people were debating whether Williams or Chris Paul was the best point guard in the NBA. From 2007 to 2012, Williams was good for 20 points and 10 assists a game, and going into the summer of 2012, he had been an All Star for three straight years.
As was mentioned over and over again heading into his free agency that summer, Williams is from the Dallas area. It's hardly unsurprising that he was the first "big fish" max-level free agent that Mark Cuban and company tried to lure to Dallas under the new collective bargaining agreement.
And as we all remember, it blew up in the Mavericks' face, just like every other max-level free agent pursuit Dallas has pursued. Swayed by the acquisition of seven-time All Star Joe Johnson, Deron Williams returned to the Nets as the team made its much-hyped move to Brooklyn. As it turned out, this actually worked out really well for the Mavericks.
Three years later, Deron Williams's tenure in Brooklyn is nearly universally considered a massive failure. His production has decreased each year since he signed his max contract, and he missed significant time due to injury both of the last two seasons. But more than anything, he just never quite looked like the superstar he had seemed in the five years prior to that contract.
Maybe the pressure got to him. Or maybe he just didn't fit as well in Brooklyn as he had in Utah, in terms of basketball but also culture. The injuries were certainly a big factor, but no one really knows exactly what went wrong. But it got bad enough that Brooklyn decided to bite the bullet and buy Williams out of the remaining two years of his exorbitant contract. The reports that Brooklyn and Williams were discussing a buyout were quickly followed by reports that Williams would sign with Dallas once the buyout was complete. And now, finally, Deron Williams is a Dallas Maverick.
Fortunately for Deron, no one expects him to be a superstar this time around. But what should Mavs fans expect? Last season, Williams averaged 13 points, 6.6 assists, and 3.5 rebounds. This is probably a fairly reasonable expectation. The added bonus for Williams is that Mavs fans have such a bad taste in their mouth from a half-season of Rajon Rondo, Williams should look like a golden boy in comparison without really doing anything. The offense will be much better under Williams, who doesn't create any of the spacing issues that sank the glorious offensive ship that was the pre-Rondo Dallas Mavericks. And while Rondo is the more talented defender, Williams will endear himself to fans on that end simply by putting in a bit of effort.
The cool thing is that it's not out of the question that he might even be able to find a little of his previous Utah magic again, under lower expectations and in a more familiar setting. Between Dirk, Parsons, and (eventually) Wes Matthews, a player he actually spent a season with in Utah, this new version of the Mavericks should have a very balanced offensive attack. All Deron has to do is build some chemistry with his new teammates and get comfortable with the passing and movement of Carlisle's flow offense. I'm not saying that he'll all of the sudden start averaging 20 and 10 again, but that doesn't matter, because Dallas doesn't need him to.
Deron Williams is almost a perfect fit with this Dallas team. After being misled and ultimately spurned by DeAndre Jordan, Dallas is rebounding by building a solid group of reliable, if somewhat unspectacular, players. Dallas needs players who want to be here, and Deron needs a team that doesn't expect him to be "the man." Playing next to a legend in Dirk Nowitzki and an already established local golden boy in Chandler Parsons should be just the right situation for Deron to attempt something of a renaissance.
And even if he can't quite produce that, we'll all be fine with it. Because hey, at least he's not Rondo.