SALT LAKE CITY — Deron Williams might not have too much time to spend with his hometown friends when he returns to Dallas this month.
The Utah Jazz point guard's schedule is quickly filling up for All-Star Weekend.
Not only will Williams participate in the NBA All-Star Game for the first time — after being voted in as a reserve by the league's head coaches last week — but the fifth-year pro will also vie for a second Skills Challenge championship while he's home.
Williams will compete against defending champ Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls, the Suns' Steve Nash and Milwaukee rookie Brandon Jennings in the 2010 Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday, Feb. 13.
Williams won the obstacle course event — which tests competitors dribbling, passing and shooting skills — in a record time of 25.5 seconds in 2008.
Rose, another first-time All-Star, won the 2009 challenge as a rookie in 35.3 seconds last year. Williams did not participate in that contest.
Nash, voted in as a Western Conference All-Star starter, was the 2005 champion.
The Skills Challenge will be televised on TNT during NBA All-Star Saturday Night along with the dunk contest and the 3-point shootout beginning at 6 p.m. from American Airlines Center. The All-Star Game is the following night at Cowboys Stadium.
ANOTHER ALL-STAR: Sundiata Gaines could join Williams in Dallas for the All-Star festivities — but the rookie point guard would have to be reassigned to the D-League for that to happen.
The former Idaho Stampede standout, who was called up and then signed by the Jazz in January, was selected to the D-League's West All-Star squad Tuesday. To be eligible to participate, however, players must be on a D-League roster at the time of the All-Star Game, which is part of the NBA All-Star Jam Session on Saturday afternoon.
Gaines, who averaged 23.9 points, 6.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds in 14 games with Idaho, was voted onto the 10-deep West All-Star team by fans and coaches.
Two other D-League players with Utah connections also made the All-Star team — Springfield guard Morris Almond, a former first-round Jazz pick who played two seasons in Utah, and current Utah Flash guard Dontell Jefferson.
BACKUP POWER: Carlos Boozer, out with a strained right calf muscle, has been impressed by his temporary fill-in, Paul Millsap. The power forward's understudy had 25 points, nine rebounds and four blocks against Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas in the Jazz's 104-92 win Monday — a strong showing preceded by Friday's 32-point, 14-rebound, seven-assist outing against Sacramento.
"He's played great. I think he's played great every time he's had a chance to play extended minutes," Boozer said of Millsap. "He's been playing great all season. I think he stepped into a situation where he got more opportunities, and he makes the most of them."
INJURY REPORT: Ronnie Brewer joined Boozer on the sideline at practice Tuesday. Brewer bruised his back in Monday's win and will be a game-time decision for tonight's 7 o'clock tipoff.
Boozer, meanwhile, continued to increase his activity.
"It's feeling great. I'm just going to try to do a little bit more today," Boozer said. "I'm shooting for Saturday to come back."
MEET-N-GREET OLYMPIANS: Jazz fans attending tonight's Portland-Utah game have a chance to rub shoulders with 25 of the 216 U.S. Olympic athletes who will compete at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C.
The Olympians, whose competitions begin Friday, Feb. 12, will participate in an autograph-signing session on the EnergySolutions Arena concourse before the game from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. These athletes — all of whom currently live and train in Utah — will then be introduced inside the arena after the first quarter.
The Olympic athletes include:
JR Celski (speedskating), Simon Cho (speedskating), Kimberly Derrick (speedskating), Aly Dudek (speedskating), Erik Fisher (alpine skiing), Lana Gehring (speedskating), Steven Holcomb (bobsled), Travis Jayner (speedskating), Anders Johnson (ski jumping), TJ Lanning (alpine skiing), Ted Ligety (alpine skiing), Zach Lund (skeleton), Scott Macartney (alpine skiing), Jordan Malone (speedskating), Steve Mesler (bobsled), Steve Nyman (alpine skiing), Justin Olsen (bobsled), Jeret "Speedy" Peterson (freestyle skiing), Noelle Pikus-Pace (skeleton), Katherine Reutter (speedskating), Shauna Rohbock (bobsled), Marco Sullivan (alpine skiing), Curt Tomasevicz (bobsled), Katie Uhlaender (skeleton) and Andrew Weibrecht (alpine skiing).
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