They played only one season together with the Utah Jazz. Now, five years later, Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews are back together again.
Ironically, both players are also back with a mission. Back to prove the critics wrong. Back to jump-start a career that has been derailed by injury.
As the new starting backcourt for the Dallas Mavericks, Williams and Matthews have a lot of responsibilities.
Matthews is replacing shooting guard Monta Ellis, who was the Mavericks’ go-to player the past two seasons before signing a free-agent contract with the Indiana Pacers this past summer.
At point guard, Williams replaces Rajon Rondo, who got sideways with coach Rick Carlisle last season before he and the Mavericks decided to mutually part ways. Rondo signed a free-agent contract with the Sacramento Kings over the summer.
Let what happened in Brooklyn be in the past and move forward. It’s over and done with. I’m a Maverick and I’m excited to play with the group we have and for coach Carlisle.
Mavericks point guard Deron Williams
Signed to a two-year, $11 million free-agent contract by the Mavericks, Williams plays a position which hasn’t had substantial success since Jason Kidd left for the New York Knicks in 2012. However, Williams is coming off an injury-riddled season with the Brooklyn Nets, which turned out to be one of the worst of his 10-year career.
The Mavericks are not concerned about Williams’ health issues, despite the fact that he played in only one of the team’s seven preseason games because of a strained right calf.
“I watched a lot of film from his playoffs last year and later in the season and it really appeared to me that his health was good,” said Carlisle, whose team opens the regular season at Phoenix at 9 p.m. Wednesday. “We did a breakdown film on him, and I was astounded with the number of points that he scored late in the year that were drives to the basket — he was getting to the rim.
“The other thing I really like about him for our situation is that I just like the guys that we can surround him with to make his job easier. I really think he can make the jobs of the guys around him easier as well.”
A native of The Colony, Williams said in talking with owner Mark Cuban and Carlisle, the plan is for him to get a fresh start in a much friendlier environment than the one he played in during his time in Brooklyn.
“Let what happened in Brooklyn be in the past and move forward,” Williams said. “It’s over and done with. I’m a Maverick and I’m excited to play with the group we have and for coach Carlisle.
“Just hitting that reset button, clearing my head and getting away from the situation that wasn’t going well for me or the team in Brooklyn. It’s a total change coming here.”
The good thing is they’re not a bunch of rookies where we have to teach some stuff, but there will be some kinks we need to work out here and there.
Dirk Nowitzki on the addition of Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews
Matthews, 29, underwent left Achilles surgery on March 11 while playing for the Portland Trail Blazers. The recovery lasted so long that the only preseason game Matthews played in was the same one Williams played in — last Friday in Lincoln, Neb., against the Chicago Bulls.
“I’m not confident that I’m going to be that player,” said Matthews, who signed a four-year, $70 million contract with the Mavericks. “I’m confident that I’m going to be better than that player. I’m looking forward to this challenge.”
Perennial All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki is eager to play with Matthews and Williams.
“They’ve both been around the block, they’re smart players and we’ll play well off each other,” Nowitzki said. “The good thing is they’re not a bunch of rookies where we have to teach some stuff, but there will be some kinks we need to work out here and there.
Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews played together with the Utah Jazz during the 2009-2010 season. It was Matthews’ rookie season and Williams’ fifth with the Jazz.
“I think the plays, some of them we need to work out and push them in the right direction, so that’s going to take a little time. The defensive calls, sometimes they don’t pick up as quickly as we should, but that’s going to come, that’s going to come quick by being out there, by communicating, by helping each other out on the court and that’s what veterans do.”
The only time Williams and Matthews played together in Utah was during the 2009-2010 season. That was Matthews’ rookie season and Williams’ fifth with the Jazz.
“It’s been [five] years since I played with him, so it’s not exactly too familiar,” Williams said. “But it’s good to definitely get out there with him, and it’s good to see him back on the court as well.”
Despite playing for different teams the past five seasons, Matthews and Williams remained friends.
“You see people that played together and after they were no longer teammates that might have been the last time they communicated,” Matthews said. “But D-Will and I have remained friends. So it’ll just make our bond even closer and tighter so we can get that much more out of each other.”