Utah Jazz: Deron Williams says he argued with Sloan, denies pushing him out the door
Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — After shootaround Friday morning, Deron Williams walked up to the podium outside of the Jazz locker room, where a mass of media awaited.
Williams approached the microphone, and a TV personality jokingly asked: "Biggest question, D: What are your Valentine's Day plans?"
Williams, caught off guard at the obvious fluff question, said he'd be going to dinner with his wife.
The All-Star point guard cracked a slight smile and asked: "That's the icebreaker?"
It was. But it certainly wasn't the last question.
For the next six minutes, the Jazz captain answered multiple queries regarding his involvement in Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan's sudden resignation Thursday and about the team's unexpected coaching change.
Williams admitted he'd been in a halftime argument with Sloan during Wednesday's loss to Chicago, but he vehemently denied that he pushed Sloan out the door in the middle of his 23rd season as the Jazz's head coach.
"He just said it was his time. That was his decision. He felt it was time," Williams said. "Maybe arguing was the last straw. So, there. I am guilty of that. But I think anybody who believes that I could force coach Sloan to resign is crazy. He's stronger than that."
Williams said he knows he can't stop swirling speculation that points to him pulling off a power play, but said he also knows that God and everybody in the locker room is aware of what happened.
Williams insisted he's never had a meeting with management — about any discontent with Sloan or anything else. He also said he'd love to see who the unnamed sources were who told national reporters that he was behind Sloan's exit.
"We had an argument. We've had them before," Williams said. "Am I the reason coach resigned? I highly doubt that. Never once did I say it's me or him. It's never happened."
Williams added that he didn't feel like the 68-year-old Sloan's message had lost its effectiveness on the team.
"No, not really," he said. "We all love coach Sloan. We all love to play for him."
D-Will has yet to talk to his old bench boss. General manager Kevin O'Connor told the players Sloan will eventually talk to them individually, but not now.
And the All-Star admitted he felt "shock" when Jazz CEO Greg Miller informed him briefly of Sloan's decision on Thursday. He joked that he thought he'd retire before the Hall of Fame coach did.
"It just looked like he could coach forever," he added.
As for his new coach, Williams expressed his excitement in moving forward under the direction of Corbin.
"We have full confidence in Ty," Williams said. "We're going to do most of the same things. ... He's going to be the same style, we're going to have the same offense. Hopefully, we can just keep on moving."
As far as how Jazz fans feel, Williams — who was booed rather loudly in introductions Friday night — hoped they'd believe what they heard from the Jazz and not through anonymous sources or pundits.
"If they want to believe ESPN and all of these sources, then they can believe them," Williams said. "If they want to believe coach Sloan and Kevin O'Connor and Phil Johnson and me, then they can believe that."
Williams added this to his defense:
"I'm not the smartest guy, but I'm also not stupid and I would never try to force out a Hall of Fame coach, somebody who's so loved in this community, somewhere I'm playing at right now," he said. "I've been smart how I've handled the free agent talk, so why would I go and do something stupid like that?"
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