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Deron Williams says players have no interest in playing for Utah Jazz

Deron Williams
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Former Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams dismissed the idea that the Jazz will be able to entice any major free agents in the future, citing his own futility in making that effort.

 

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The 38-year-old Williams last played in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2016-17 season, but began his career with the Jazz in 2005. He was the third overall pick of the 2005 NBA Draft and remained with the Jazz until February 2011, when he was dealt to the then-New Jersey Nets.

Williams was selected to play in three NBA All-Star games and was also part of both the 2008 and 2012 Team USA squads that won gold medals in those respective Summer Olympics.

During Williams’ tenure with the Jazz, the team won more than 50 games in a season three times. However, that regular season success failed to translate in the playoffs, with the Jazz only reaching the Western Conference finals once.

To win that many games in a season takes a collection of talent that the Jazz obviously possessed. However, their inability to get to the next level was handicapped by the struggles in bringing in difference-makers.

One Possible Reason for Player Reluctance

Exactly why major free agents have spurned the idea of playing in Utah isn’t explained, though one reason appears to be obvious. The Jazz play in Salt Lake City, which isn’t considered a major market that would allow players to fully exploit the commercial possibilities like they would in cities like New York, Miami or Los Angeles.

The Jazz have had their outstanding players during their more than four decades of playing in Utah. However, the list of players who have spent their entire career there is likely a short one.

An inability to recruit free agents for a city deemed to be a small market isn’t unique to Utah. For example, the Cavaliers had that issue during the two previous tenures of LeBron James.

Even though that issue might otherwise doom the Jazz to being perpetual also-rans for the future, they will do their best to rebuild their overhauled roster through the draft.

That was aided through the offseason blockbuster deals that sent Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Donovan Mitchell to the Cavaliers. While giving up those players was a painful process, the deals brought back a large cache of future top draft picks.

Some of those picks may not be available for years, though they at least hold out the hope for future success. It’s possible at some point that players’ mindsets will change, but for now, this approach appears to be the lone hope for future success for the Jazz.

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