Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — After spending his first seven NBA seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Marvin Williams admits he would've been plenty happy playing there — and staying there — for a lot longer.
Well, young man, welcome to the business side of professional basketball, where even all-time greats from Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson to Shaquille O'Neal and Steve Nash have found themselves on the trading block during their storied careers.
No, Williams did not see this trade coming at all. But after being peddled to Utah last week in a deal that sent point guard Devin Harris to Atlanta, Williams expressed his excitement and enthusiasm about beginning the next chapter of his life — this one in a Jazz uniform.
"This is definitely an exciting time for me and my family," Williams, a 6-foot-9 small forward, said Thursday in his introductory press conference with the Utah media. "Obviously (it's) my first time being traded, but to be able to play for an organization like the Utah Jazz really is exciting.
"I'm excited, I'm definitely excited. It's something very new for me. I've been in Atlanta the last seven years, and that's all I ever knew. So a new opportunity, get a chance to play with new guys, play for a new coach, live in a new city, it's all going to be something new for me, so it definitely is an exciting time for sure.
"It was unexpected, obviously," he said. "I have always loved Atlanta. I've loved the fans there, I loved playing there, I loved my teammates there, it's a great city. But I understand the nature of the business — trades happen — and you have to move on and it's time to turn the page to the next chapter."
Williams, the No. 2 pick in the 2005 NBA Draft — he was picked right after University of Utah star Andrew Bogut, taken at No. 1 by the Milwaukee Bucks, and ahead of two guys, Deron Williams (No. 3 by Utah) and Chris Paul (No. 4 by New Orleans) who have gone on to become superstar point guards in the league — has averaged 11.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in his career thus far.
Now Marvin Williams, 26, is hoping his contributions might help the Jazz, who reached the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference last season, make a move further up the league standings.
"I'm a young guy but I've been in the league, this is coming up on my eighth year," he said. "I've been to the playoffs before so I've won a little bit. Hopefully I can come in and just kinda play my game, and hopefully my game really fits in with the Utah Jazz and that'll help us take this organization to the next level.
"This is a team that's already been established. They made the playoffs last year, so whatever role I have to come in and fill, I just have to try and go out there and do it to the best of my ability.
"They've got a lot of younger guys, a lot of new guys," Williams said of the Jazz. "Al Jefferson obviously is a big-time player down there on the low block. I'm actually a big fan of Gordon Hayward; I think he really plays hard. They definitely have guys that can really come in and play and make things happen. … I've played against (newly acquired point guard Mo Williams) obviously a few times in the Eastern Conference, and that wasn't fun. So I'm glad to be on his team this time."
Many so-called basketball experts consider Marvin Williams, as the second overall selection in the '05 draft class, as a bit of an under-achiever in his NBA career thus far — especially when compared to players like Deron Williams and Paul, who are both members of the U.S. men's basketball team that will be favored to win a gold medal in the London Summer Olympics that get under way later this month.
Marvin Williams won't let himself get caught up, though, in any discussion about whether he has lived up to the high expectations which were placed on him coming out of the University of North Carolina in 2005, when as a freshman he helped lead the Tar Heels to the NCAA championship before deciding to turn pro.
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