It’s not unusual for pictures of the Utah Jazz practice facility to show up on Instagram. What was intriguing when one showed up Tuesday was the photographer.
The 33-year-old former Jazzman was slow to cop to it, joking that his Instagram was hacked.
But it was true: That day, Williams — who was traded from the Jazz under a dark cloud in 2011 shortly after Jerry Sloan abruptly retired — stepped foot on Utah’s recently renovated Salt Lake campus on Tuesday. It appeared to be an early step in bridging the gap between Williams and the organization in which he enjoyed his best professional seasons.
“They’re really big on family there,” said Williams, who still spends much of his summers living in Utah. “If you put on a Jazz uniform, you’re family for life. It was really awesome to be back, and I got to see a lot of people in the organization.”
Williams talked about his visit to the Jazz facility on Thursday, during a conference call about the American Century Championship golf tournament he’s participating in this weekend. Williams hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2016-17 season, when he had a spot role for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He toured the facility with Greg Miller, the Jazz’s representative to the NBA’s board of governors, and team president Steve Starks.
In his six seasons with the Jazz, Williams averaged 17.3 points and 9.1 assists per game while making three All-Star teams (out of five total). Outside of Stockton, he’s one of the best guards to ever play for Utah.
While there are some in the fanbase who have blamed him for Sloan’s departure, others have seen their hurt feelings worn by time. For his part, Williams said he’s always felt that his time in Utah was colored by his exit, but he doesn’t hold any ill will.
“I don’t think time has changed how I felt about my time there — in the public’s eye, in the media’s eye, everything is misconstrued by the moment,” he said. “We had some great teams there. … For me, it’s about remembering the good and not the bad, so it was good going back and having the chance to visit.”
Summer League spots reportedly filling up
Two college players are heading for Utah Summer League on the Jazz roster, according to multiple media reports.
Purdue big man Isaac Haas and Western Michigan point guard Thomas Wilder both were linked to the Jazz in reports that surfaced Friday morning. They’re expected to join 2017 Jazz draft pick Tony Bradley and former two-way players Georges Niang and Naz Mitrou-Long with Utah Summer League opens at Vivint Smart Home Arena on July 2.
Haas is one of the largest players coming from the college ranks, standing at 7-foot-2. His senior season, in which he averaged 14.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks, was abruptly ended by an elbow injury during the NCAA Tournament.
The 6-foot-3 Wilder is one of the most prolific scorers in Western Michigan history, averaging 18.8 ppg as a senior. He also averaged more than four rebounds and four assists per game for the Broncos.