Jerry Colangelo said Saturday he never said Deron Williams was unfit to play in the Olympics, only that the point guard wasn’t in great shape when the US men’s basketball team began training last summer.
Colangelo was quoted in Saturday’s Daily News of New York as saying that the Brooklyn Nets point guard ”was not in the best shape” and ”a little overweight” last summer. The headline for the story said Colangelo called Williams ”unfit.”
”I said a lot of things which basically said, look, our players are better off with us, we take care of our players, they’re important assets, and on and on and on,” Colangelo said.
”And I said and by the way, he wasn’t in the best of shape, and that’s true, because if you remember he didn’t even practice with us the first week because of contract and so forth. I certainly never said he was unfit to play USA Basketball.”
Williams couldn’t scrimmage with the Americans when they opened training camp last July because he was a free agent who still hadn’t yet signed his $98 million contract with the Nets.
He acknowledged at the time being worried about his conditioning, but eventually played his way into shape and appeared in all eight games in London, averaging 9.0 points and winning his second Olympic gold medal.
Williams has been inconsistent this season and sat out the final two games before the All-Star break after getting treatment for inflammation of both ankles.
While there has been speculation that Williams’ problems were caused by playing year-round, Colangelo said US officials pay special attention to the health of their superstar players in the summer.
Colangelo said he would talk to Williams, a fellow University of Illinois product.
”My plan is to give Deron a call and tell him exactly what took place,” Colangelo said. ”It wasn’t meant to embarrass him at all.”
The Americans are off this summer, having qualified automatically for the 2014 World Cup of Basketball in Spain by winning Olympic gold.
Williams told The Associated Press in September that he was ”definitely open” to being on that team and wouldn’t rule out returning in 2016 for a third Olympics.
”Deron is part of our family. That’s not going to change and I’m sorry he’s got some injury issues,” Colangelo said. ”I mean, he is always welcome.”