On the day the Jazz signed their franchise point guard to a contract extension that could keep him in Utah through 2013, general manager Kevin O'Connor thought back to three-plus years ago.
It was the month before the 2005 NBA Draft, and the Jazz were pondering the possibilities if they could just move up which they indeed did and pick as high as No. 3 overall.
Chris Paul? Deron Williams? Which way to go?
"We had a choice, and we made a choice," O'Connor said. "And the choice has exceeded our expectations."
That choice was Williams, who on Friday signed a three-year, roughly $50 million extension beyond next season with a player option for the 2012-13 season that could be worth another $20 million or so the same deal Paul recently signed with the New Orleans Hornets.
In the three years since the draft, Williams has gone from frustrated rookie reserve to a Team USA point who'll play at next month's Summer Olympics in China.
The University of Illinois product also has helped the Jazz to five playoff series over the past two seasons, which went a long way toward the awarding of his max-money extension.
But the road there wasn't always smooth.
He was flustered that Jazz coach Jerry Sloan didn't use him more as a rookie, so much that Williams admitted Friday he couldn't have cared less then if Sloan continued to coach the team or not.
"I probably would have hoped he was gone already," Williams said. "But now I hope he stays."
In fact, Sloan's presence more precisely, its relative uncertainty in seasons beyond the next was a critical factor among several that Williams weighed while deciding to take a three-year-plus-the-option extension rather than the maximum-allowed five-year extension.
"That plays a lot into it as well, because Jerry's a great coach and is a winner. That's all that's on his mind, is winning basketball games," he said of Sloan, who is heading into his 21st season as head coach of the Jazz. "That's what's on my mind, and that's why I like him so much, and that's why we get along.
"And you don't know how many years he's going to be coaching for. You know, he pretty much takes it one year at a time," Williams added. "And that definitely has an effect in the back of my mind that he might not be here, and you don't know who's gonna come in after him if he decides to leave in the next couple years."
Another reality Williams considered is that All-Star power forward Carlos Boozer and starting center Mehmet Okur both can opt out of their contracts after next season, and backup shooting guard Kyle Korver has an early termination option that he can exercise in 2009 leaving future makeup of the Jazz roster much in flux.
"I think they (Boozer, Okur and Korver) pretty much knew I was gonna be here. I don't think that was ever in doubt," Williams said. "They know that I love it here. They know that this is where I want them to be with me, and hopefully those guys can win a championship with me.
"But, at the same time," he added, "you can't, he (O'Connor) can't predict what people are going to do if people are going to opt out, if people are going to go somewhere else. That's really out of his hands."
Then there are financial matters.
By signing the deal he did, Williams will be either 28 or 29 when he is eligible for a new contract that could be for max money and up to six years.
Had he taken the five-year extension, he'd be 30 then.
"When you're 30, that's not really a good age," Williams said. "It seems like that's a little frowned-upon. It seems like you're going down from there."
The Jazz nonetheless tried to persuade Williams to sign the five-year extension by suggesting that if his current deal expires before a new collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players association is reached, negotiations on that front could mean Williams is eligible for a smaller piece of salary-cap pie in the fifth year than what he is entitled to under the current arrangement.
"We talked about all of that," said agent Bob McClaren, who suggested that's one reason negotiations didn't wrap up sooner.
"The owners are more for cutting back the max salaries, but I wasn't really concerned about (that)," Williams added. "I mean, that played a little part in me thinking more toward the five-year deal. But in the end I just went with my gut feeling."
That was three plus the option, which if exercised would mean Williams has at least an eight-year stay in Utah including the next five.
"I felt that five years was a long time five years was enough time to accomplish what we want to accomplish," Williams said. "And a lot of things can change in five years. A lot of things can go right, a lot of things can go wrong."
"He does think this team is going to be a good team for some time, and he expects to continue to play at a high level," McClaren added. "If that happens if he will be successful, and the team will be successful hopefully we will do this again in five years."
Decision made, then.
Though not without much consternation.
"He always wanted to do this," McClaren said of the three-plus-one, "but he was very open to the other options that were out there."
"I went back-and-forth a lot," Williams added. "It was a really tough decision for me. It took a lot of debating, a lot of talking."
And now that talk turns elsewhere.
"Hopefully we can accomplish a lot in ... eight years," Williams said, "and then I still have a chance to re-sign with the Jazz after that if things are going well."
What Williams ultimately hopes to accomplish, of course, is what his predecessors, including John Stockton and Karl Malone, have not.
"My main goal is to win a championship here something that hasn't been done for this organization," Williams said.
Nothing would make Sloan happier.
Friday's happenings, though, had the tough-to-please Jazz coach smiling."He (Williams) has exceeded our expectations by the way he's worked and the way he's led our team, and the things he's been able to do," the Jazz coach said. "I can't say enough about it."
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