1 of 2
Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Deron Williams makes a chip shot on hole #18 at Thanksgiving Point golf course where Williams hosted a celebrity golf tournament.

Shortly before he teed off in his charity golf tournament Monday, Deron Williams said he was ready for the competition and action to begin.

And though the avid golfer was excited about swinging his sticks at Thanksgiving Point, the Jazz point guard's enthusiasm was in reference to his team's upcoming training camp for the 2008-09 NBA season.

"We're ready to get it rolling," Williams said.

Bring on Boise then, right?

Well, sort of. Williams joked about switching locations for camping — he looked into a TV camera and asked coach Jerry Sloan and newly crowned Jazz CEO Greg Miller, "Why can't we go to Hawaii?" — but admitted he's pumped about training with his teammates.

Even in Idaho.

At least he won't have to worry about getting his wisdom teeth yanked like last year.

"I'm definitely looking forward to getting things going," Williams said. "I'm excited about this team. Me and Kyle (Korver) were just talking about it; we're going to be good, I believe."

Mostly, he said, because few introductions will be necessary. The only new faces on the Jazz roster are backup point guard Brevin Knight and drafted rookie forward Kosta Koufos.

"We pretty much kept the same core, and I think that's good ...," Williams said. "Guys are starting to realize their roles."

Williams even believes the possibility of a mass exodus from Utah next summer could play in the team's favor this year.

"A lot of guys got a little bit of pressure on them this year to perform because it's their contract year. I always think that's a plus," he said. "I think that's another reason why this season's so important. While we have everybody here, we've got to make a run at it and see what we can do."

For his part, Williams has worked to become thinner and fitter than he was while helping Team USA reclaim the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics last month.

Williams, who signed a contract extension this summer that could keep him in Utah for five more seasons, said he gained some weight in China because he only played 20 minutes a game and missed out on some cardio workouts. Late games also led to a somewhat crazy eating schedule.

"I've lost a lot since I've got back, got in better shape ... ," he said. "Getting back to doing my muscle-activation stuff and massages — something I really didn't have over there — and I'm feeling a lot better. And losing the weight helps, too."

After an informal team pick-up game Monday morning, several teammates — including Korver, C.J. Miles, Ronnie Brewer, Paul Millsap, Ronnie Price, Morris Almond and Jarron Collins — joined Williams at the golfing fundraiser that will benefit students at the Carmen B. Pingree Center for Children with Autism. The team will officially reunite for camp next week, beginning with a media day Monday.

Other celebrity participants included former Jazz players Jeff Hornacek, Thurl Bailey and Ty Corbin; NBA players Devin Harris (Nets) and Jason Terry (Dallas); college coaches Jim Boylen (Utah hoops), Dick Hunsaker (UVU hoops) and Bruce Brockbank (BYU golf); BYU volleyball player Ryan Millar; TV broadcaster Craig Bolerjack; Jazz brass Kevin O'Connor (general manager) and Randy Rigby (president); and professional golfers Tony and Gipper Finau.

Williams' Point of Hope Foundation also had a dinner Sunday night and auctions to raise money to help autistic youths. Last year, the event benefited the fight against cancer.

"It feels good to do this kind of thing," Williams said.


E-mail: jody@desnews.com