Utah Jazz: Mo Williams' agent disputes report that point guard demands to be a starter
SALT LAKE CITY — If Mo Williams doesn't return to the Utah Jazz this season, his agent said it won't be because he made a demand to be the team's starting point guard.
Agent Mark Bartelstein, who represents Williams and four other Jazz players (more on them later), vehemently disputed a report by Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears that painted a different picture.
A day after the Jazz traded up to acquire coveted point guard Trey Burke, Yahoo Sports claimed Friday that Williams, an unrestricted free agent, will only come back to Utah if he's guaranteed a starting role next season.
"He's not going to come back as a backup," a source reportedly told Yahoo.
Bartelstein told the Deseret News that the Yahoo story "completely mischaracterized" how Williams' camp feels heading into the free agency period that begins Sunday night at 10:01 MDT.
"That is 100 percent not the case," Bartelstein said. "We would never make a demand of the Jazz or any team."
To the contrary, Bartelstein said Williams will have an "open mind" while discussing possible contracts with Utah and other prospective teams. The agent expects to chat with Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey soon about Williams' possible future in Utah.
"No doors are closed," he said. "That's for sure."
Williams has played 10 years in the NBA, including 46 games last season as the Jazz's starting point guard. The 30-year-old missed a big chunk of the season with a surgery-requiring thumb injury.
Williams expects to be at full strength heading into the 2013-14 season.
"The point of the matter is, we've never made a demand on anyone," Bartelstein said. "We never will make a demand on anyone. It's not the way we do things."
The agent, however, doesn’t hide the fact that Williams believes he is a capable starting point guard in this league. The 6-1 guard, who began his career in Utah in 2003 after being picked 47th overall, has started 478 of the 635 NBA games he's played. The 10-year veteran was an All-Star in 2009 and helped lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Eastern Conference Finals.
"There's no question about Mo Williams' ability and the success he's had in this league. Mo has proven to be a starting-caliber point guard in the league," Bartelstein said. "(But) nothing is given to anyone. You earn your minutes."
Williams, his agent pointed out, had a good time in his second stint with Utah despite some of the adverse conditions of last season, including the injury.
"Mo Williams loved it in Utah, so he's certainly not opposed to coming back at all," Bartelstein said.
At the same time, the agent realizes that the Jazz traded to get a good, young point guard, so he said Utah has some decisions to make.
"There will be a lot of interest," Bartelstein said. "He's a really good player."
Not surprisingly, Lindsey's response to the controversial Williams story was simply, "No comment."
Bartelstein also represents Jazz players Gordon Hayward, DeMarre Carroll, Earl Watson and Jeremy Evans.
— Bartelstein and Lindsey both declined to discuss details about the contract extension that Hayward can sign before entering his fourth season. But the Jazz plan on exploring a new deal for the 23-year-old swingman. Power forward Derrick Favors can also sign a contract extension this summer — something that Utah will also try to work out.
— Carroll, an unrestricted free agent, made it clear at the end of the Jazz season that he wants to return to Utah, where he played for the past year and a half.
"He would love to come back," Bartelstein said of the 26-year-old, who has played for four different teams in his four-year career. "He had a heck of a season — a unique player, brings unique things to the game."
— Watson hopes to return to the NBA in 2013-14 — and he could be much more productive than he was in a rough 2012-13 campaign. Bartelstein revealed that Watson played most of the season with a sports hernia and said his client's surgically repaired knee was never at full strength. Now, the agent said, Watson "feels like a completely different guy."
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