The return home to Dallas is off to a rough start for Deron Williams.
Forget even making an appearance in any of the four pre-season games for the Mavericks, the three-time All-Star hasn’t even completed an entire practice since signing a two-year, $10 million contract three months ago in free agency.
Just before the start of training camp, Williams strained his left calf and was unavailable to begin working out with his new team.
Midway through his first practice with Dallas, the 31-year-old guard strained his right calf, leaving his availability for opening night in jeopardy.
The Mavericks open the season Oct. 28 in Phoenix, but now are unsure if any starters on the perimeter will be in the lineup.
Along with Williams, newly signed shooting guard Wesley Matthews is still working his way back from a ruptured Achilles’s tendon while small forward Chandler Parsons is recovering from a hybrid microfracture surgical procedure he underwent this summer.
Matthews has been practicing at full speed for the past week and is perhaps the furthest along on his return to the floor, while Parsons has yet to be cleared to participate in any five-on-five drills in practice.
Instead of dealing with numerous injuries to Williams, the Nets instead decided to buy out the final two years of his contact, paying him $43 million to become a free agent last summer.
In his four full seasons with the Nets, Williams was available to play just 82.3 percent of the regular season, missing an average of 16 games per season.
Brooklyn expected Williams to be the franchise point guard, but persistent ankle issues triggered his decline in scoring each of the past four years.
Williams averaged 13 points per game last season, his fewest since his rookie year, and eventually lost his starting job to Jarrett Jack.
In desperate need of a point guard, the Mavericks decided to gamble on bringing Williams back to his hometown, as he played high school basketball just 30 miles north of Dallas.
The opportunity to revive his career is off to the wrong start, as Williams will be held out of all contract drills for at least the next week.
If Williams begins the season on the injured reserve list, there are several candidates to win the starting point guard position for Dallas, as Raymond Felton, J.J. Barea and Devin Harris are all vying for minutes in the rotation.
Williams has rarely shown the explosiveness that led to a geniune debate at the beginning of his career for point guard supremacy against Chris Paul.
In fantasy basketball, 19 point guards are being selected ahead of Williams, and if this calf strain forces him to miss any portion of the season, the list may continue to grow.
Mock drafters aren’t selecting Williams until the early portion of the seventh round, even though Yahoo! has him listed as the 79th best player in fantasy basketball.
There are too many negatives in his game to warrant anything before a 10th round selection. Williams shot just 38.7 percent from the field, a figure that would have been the third worst among all players, if he attempted enough shots to be among the league leaders.
His minutes, steals and assists have all taken a steep decline over the past two seasons and throughout his career, Williams has only been an average 3-point shooter.
Once again the Mavericks are trying to quickly assemble a team around Dirk Nowitzki as he enters his 18th year in the league, but there is little continuity with the roster seemingly churning each season.
Throughout his career, Williams has consistently been one of the best play-makers in the league, as his career average of 8.5 assists per game is the third most among all active players.
In his absence, Felton has been the most consistent passer on the team, averaging 5.5 assists per game, and is posting the most minutes among all Dallas point guards in the pre-season.
No definitive timetable has been established for Williams to return to the floor, but with persistent injuries derailing him for each of the past four years, the best option in fantasy basketball may be to stay away.