Deron Williams was finally cleared for, and participated in, practice for the first time this season on Tuesday. He said he felt good yesterday, but wanted to wait and see how he felt on Wednesday before he got too excited.
It turns out that he felt good on Wednesday and once again participated in practice. However, he told Stefan Bondy of the NY Daily News that although he felt good, he still doubts that he’ll play opening night simply because he’s missed too much time. Part of the problem is that with so much time off, he hasn’t gotten enough time with the new players and he’s not totally in shape. “I’m jumping like J-Kidd,” D-Will joked.
Williams did express optimism in his wrists though and explained that for the first time in two years, he’s playing with completely healthy wrists. There are no more wrist fragments at all and he expects that he’ll be a better shooter this season because of it. “I had two years where I was playing with a wrist with fragments all in it. That’s why I sucked,” he said.
It’s a good thing to hear about his wrist, but the ankle is still troubling. Initially it was downplayed, but then D-Will showed up to an event in a walking boot. Even then it was downplayed as they used the old excuse of, ‘I’d be playing if it weren’t the preseason.’ Now we’re a week away from the start of the year and he’s admitting that he might not be ready.
This team is obviously built for the postseason, but it is concerning that if they get off to a slow start because of this the crazy-high expectations could come back to haunt them. If they start the season, say, 4-10 or even 8-12, the media will likely jump all over them. Can they, and especially rookie head coach Jason Kidd be able to handle that kind of pressure early on? What if the Knicks are just the opposite and start hot.
Not that it’s likely to go down that way. This team still has a ton of talent and could easily make it through a week or two with a lesser D-Will or even no D-Will at all. Shaun Livingston has done a solid job at the point during the preseason and they could even go with a guy like Paul Pierce playing the point or just work a general rotation with the big guys, Brook Lopez, Kevin Garnett and Andray Blatche, handling a lot of the offense. Maybe they won’t beat the Heat in Game 2 that way, but they will likely still have a winning record.