Point guard undergoes surgical procedure on both ankles
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Nets fans eager to see the “real” Deron Williams may just get their first glimpse of him during the 2014-15 season.
Hobbled and severely limited by a pair of bum ankles during his first two campaigns in our fair borough, Williams may finally regain the heretofore missing-in-action speed, quick-change ability and jump in his game following a pair of successful procedures on the injured joints Tuesday.
“The arthroscopic surgery performed [Tuesday] on Deron’s left ankle included the removal of spurs from the front and back of the ankle, as well as a cleaning out of his ankle joint,’ said Dr. Martin O’Malley, the team’s foot and ankle specialist.
“In addition, Deron underwent a procedure on his right ankle to remove a loose bone fragment that was below his right ankle joint,” he added.
Williams, a perennial All-Star and arguably one of the top-two point men in the sport during his five-plus years in Utah, averaged just 14.3 points and 6.1 assists this past season, far below his career numbers and his worst single-season output since his rookie campaign in the NBA.
He sat out 18 games due to injury and was clearly the third-best point guard on the court during the Nets’ seven-game series win over Toronto in the opening round of the playoffs behind the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry and his own teammate, Shaun Livingston.
Williams was a virtual non-factor during the key moments of the Nets’ five-game playoff elimination at the hands of the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
He went scoreless on 0-of-9 shooting in Game 2 and hardly factored down the stretch in several close games in which the Nets squandered late leads thereafter.
As disappointing as his 2013-14 season was, Williams did show considerable grit in playing through virtually the entire season on two bad joints. The soon-to-be-30-year-old playmaker suffered a bone bruise in his right ankle late last summer, preventing him from a full and healthy training camp.
The team also revealed that during the regular season and playoffs, Williams endured at least four sprains of the left ankle.
According to Dr. O’Malley, Williams, who has taken countless cortisone shots in both ankles and platelet-rich plasma treatments on the joints in each of the past two seasons, should begin the upcoming season with a pair of freshly repaired and fully functioning wheels.
“Deron is expected to be on crutches for 4-to-6 weeks and then begin rehabilitation,” O’Malley noted. “He is scheduled to begin light court activities in August, which will progress to full basketball activities in September. Deron is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for the beginning of training camp.”
That’s got to be music to the ears of King and billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov. The duo wholeheartedly invested $98 million over five years in Williams in the hopes that he would not only emerge as the face our borough’s first pro sports franchise since 1957, but also spearhead the Nets to their first-ever NBA title.
After two disappointing playoff finishes in the first two years of the D-Will Plan, the Nets are doubtlessly expecting their floor leader to take a big step up in 2014-15.
Brooklyn, which currently boasts the highest payroll in the history of the sport at upwards of $190 million, can ill-afford another injury-plagued campaign by its most important player.
The Nets lost All-Star center Brook Lopez to a foot injury for virtually the entire 2013-14 season, and saw aging veterans like Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko miss big chunks of the year with back issues.
Having a healthy Williams next year, along with the return of Lopez and a re-signed Paul Pierce to go with All-Star shooting guard Joe Johnson would once again give Brooklyn a strong nucleus around which to challenge Miami and Indiana for Eastern Conference supremacy.
As indicated by his comments following the Nets’ playoff ousting, Williams’ physical limitations led to a questionable if not all together troublesome mental state.
"It just takes a beating on you confidence-wise,'' he said. "Because I thought I was over [the ankle issues] after the last half of last season. And then to start the season the way I did, missing training camp, missing a couple games, not even being 80 percent those first couple games and then sitting out again, you know it just took a beating on me.''
"I couldn't do what I wanted to,” he added. “I can't finish the way I want to finish. You start thinking about things. So that was just the main thing was just confidence-wise, it's hard to get back to where I was.”
Getting Williams, who is owed more than $60 million over the next three years, back to where he was will be the key to the Nets getting where they want to go.