Deron Williams wishes he and his Utah Jazz teammates were still playing right now, make no mistake about it.
But the star point guard saw just a glimmer of silver lining after the Los Angeles Lakers ended what he interchangeably called a "disappointing" and "frustrating" Jazz season.
Williams now gets a chance to rest.
Rest is something his sore ankle could have used for a long, long time now.
"It's going to be great to get a break (from basketball)," Williams said. "That's the only good thing you can take away from losing this early — the amount of rest you're getting."
Williams had very little offseason a year ago since he spent two months preparing for and then playing in the Olympics for Team USA.
This year he won't have that type of obligation.
"I've got to take at least a month off from running and jumping to try to get my ankle healthy to where (the ankle's) not hurting," he said.
Williams' preseason ankle sprain, which ultimately cost him 14 regular-season games and likely a spot on the Western Conference's All-Star team, was the first of many injuries to key Jazz players during the 2008-09 season. As a result, things didn't turn out as the Jazz had hoped.
"We had high expectations, that's why it's disappointing for everybody," Williams said on Tuesday. "Nobody wanted to have this kind of season. Nobody wanted to have all these injuries and deal with all the stuff we did. You know, we still made the playoffs, which is good, but we didn't really have firepower to advance in the playoffs."
Despite starting slowly while recovering from and getting used to playing with his ankle injury, Williams finished the season as the team's undisputed leader. He led the Jazz in scoring (19.4 ppg) and assists (10.7 apg).
"(Williams) struggled some with his foot after he came back," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "He wasn't the same player he was when he came to training camp. He was in absolutely terrific shape and then he gets hurt in the Chicago (preseason) game."
Still, Sloan knows that if Williams hadn't returned to his star form midway through the season, things could have been much worse.
"He's a terrific player," Sloan said of Williams. "He's a terrific talent and a very smart basketball player. If we didn't have a player of his caliber to lead us in that situation, you wouldn't expect to win 48 games."
As many as nine Jazz players could become free agents this offseason, but Williams isn't among them. He just finished the final year of his original rookie contract and his lucrative three-year extension with the Jazz — with an optional fourth year — begins next season.
When asked how much influence or input he will have with Jazz management in regard to upcoming personnel moves, Williams said he didn't know.
"I'm not a general manager. I'm not a front office guy. I'm a player," Williams said. "When it's all said and done, they're who we trust in making those decisions."
Despite saying that the team "never got the chemistry going this year," Williams was quick to point out that he meant on the court. He says the Jazz got along just fine off the court and there wasn't internal strife, as some have speculated after the team struggled late in the regular season to fall to the No. 8 seed in the West. He's also not calling for wholesale changes.
"I don't know if we can keep everybody, but hopefully we can keep most of the team intact," Williams said.
The Jazz point guard admits his team has regressed from making the Western Conference finals in 2007 to only winning a first-round series in '08 to getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs this year.
And obviously, Williams is looking to make sure that trend doesn't continue next season.
But first things first, the man is simply looking for some time to rest.
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