The Utah Jazz trade of Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets sent shockwaves through the NBA and reached the Illinois basketball offices. Illini basketball coach Bruce Weber, who coached Williams for two years at Illinois before the star entered the NBA Draft, said Thursday that he heard the news before he left the office to go recruiting.
He checked the Internet to confirm the rumor.
“We were shocked,” Weber said Wednesday. “I think he (Williams) was shocked, to be honest. That’s the only feedback I got.”
The two-time All-Star came under fire two weeks ago when veteran coach Jerry Sloan resigned after 23 years with the Jazz. Williams refuted reports that arguments with Sloan about the direction of the team pushed the coach into retirement.
Now, Williams heads from a perennial playoff team to an Eastern Conference bottom dweller.
“It’s been a tough couple weeks for him, no doubt,” Weber said. “He was the face of the Utah franchise, an All Star, an Olympian. Coach Sloan and the whole thing, it’s not been a very good three weeks. But life is not always beautiful and rosy. He’s got to deal with it and be a professional. He loves to play, he loves to compete and that’s what he’s got to do there.”