By: Larry Fleisher
A year ago many thought Deron Williams would be picking up assists feeding the ball into the low post for Dwight Howard — either with the Nets or elsewhere.
It would have been a uniting of two friends, except it seems the All-Star players aren’t nearly as close now as in December 2011 when they had dinner in Orlando, Fla. with visions of Williams’s passes being turned into Howard dunks.
“Not really,” Williams said after practice Monday when asked if he spoken to Howard recently. “We haven’t talked as much as we had before everything went on. I don’t know what the reason is.”
The pairing never happened because Howard was traded to the Lakers in a four-team deal over the summer after Nets general manager Billy King’s offer of Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks and four first-round picks was rebuffed.
Instead they will be on opposite ends of the court Tuesday night when the Nets face the Lakers, though only if Howard plays. Howard missed Los Angeles’s victories in Detroit and Minnesota with an injured shoulder and his status is uncertain.
Howard also missed three games in January with the same injury and rejoined the team in Detroit on Sunday after receiving platelet-rich plasma treatment in Los Angeles.
With Howard not on the horizon this year, and maybe not ever, Williams will possibly get his 5,000th assist feeding the ball into Brook Lopez, who is averaging 18.7 points per game on 52.6 percent shooting. It might also come from a pick-and-roll or isolation play after Williams encounters a double team.
“I don’t think like that,” Williams said. “We’re happy with Brook. We’re happy with the team that we have now so it’s not a shoulda-coulda-woulda scenario.”
When Williams (552 career games) reaches the milestone, he will become just the seventh player since 1985-86 to notch 5,000 assists in less than 600 games. He also will slot in behind Chris Paul (510) and Jason Kidd (531) as the third-fastest active player to reach 5,000 assists.
“That means that I’ve got a thousand more until I get 6,000,” Williams said. “That’s a great accomplishment, I think; 5,000 assists is a lot of assists and you say there’s only a handful of people that have done it.”
Williams is averaging 7.7 assists per game, his lowest total since his rookie season when he came off the bench in 33 games. In 19 games, under interim coach P.J.Carlesimo. Williams has totaled 140 assists for an average of 7.3 per game.
“I think more than most of the point guards in the league, he sees more doubles,” Carlesimo said. “First of all he posts up more than some and he isos [isolation] more than some, not more than a lot. So it’s not just in the open floor. It’s not just running a half court offense. A lot of his assists come from double teams or post up positions and it makes him different.”
Follow Nets beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.