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Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Updated: December 19, 8:47 PM ET
Avery Johnson OK with comments

By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Brooklyn Nets coach Avery Johnson said Tuesday that he didn't take anything point guard Deron Williams said about his offensive system "personally," and added that he has "thick skin."

On Monday, Williams said that he hasn't been the same player since being traded to the Nets from the Utah Jazz on Feb. 23, 2011, because he's had trouble getting acclimated with Johnson's isolation-heavy system. When he was in Utah, Williams thrived while playing in then-coach Jerry Sloan's "flex" offense.

"I just think we're putting more and more stuff in that he's familiar with and getting back to some of those things -- a lot of stuff that he did in his Utah system," Johnson said, just hours before the Nets were to play the Jazz at Barclays Center. "And I just think at the end of the day, when the shots are going down, everybody feels better about the team and their individual game.

"About 30 percent of what we do is what was run with him in Utah. I just think we need to do it more on the floor. And really, he has the power and the freedom to call the plays that he's most comfortable with, so I think that's what he's going to get back to doing."

Williams claimed there was "nothing to" his comments.

"I said that we've had struggles on offense here," Williams said. "I haven't felt as comfortable here, which I've said all year. My stance hasn't changed. I said I could adapt to any offense, and I'm working toward that."

Johnson said Williams already privately expressed to him his concerns with the team's offense.

"We have great communication. So the comments aren't surprising," Johnson said. "And really and truly guys, I'm 47 now, turning 48, I don't take anything personally. I communicate with all my players.

"Whether it comes out publicly or whether the guys talk to me about stuff privately, I got really thick skin, and it doesn't irritate me one bit. So a lot of his concerns, we've talked about it privately. You guys just found out about it publicly."

Williams is currently having the worst season of his career. He's shooting a career-low 38.8 percent from the field and 29.9 percent from 3-point range. According to statistics obtained from basketball-reference.com, he's making just 33.3 percent of his jump shots and shooting 26.7 percent in the fourth quarter. With the Jazz, he shot 46.6 percent from the field.

"Deron and I talked after shootaround," Johnson said. "At the end of the day, everybody handles stress and pressure and situations differently. I've got 15 basically students in my class. And everybody is not gonna have the same reaction to situations. Earlier in November, Joe had a problem with something, he just pulled me aside and said, 'Hey coach, this is something we did in Atlanta. Why don't you put this in?' So we put it in."

Williams has appeared in all 23 games, despite being hampered by myriad minor injuries.

"I think one of the things that's most important is definitely keeping your quarterback happy and comfortable," Johnson said. "But we've got other pieces of the pie. We've got Brook Lopez, who's, you know, pretty good. And they seem to be quite comfortable, so now we've gotta get everybody comfortable. And once we do that we, I think we'll make our mark. We were pretty good at one time when we were 10-4, 11-4 and we were scoring the ball pretty good and we were playing pretty good defense. It's just the cycles of the season. You'll see us run a little bit more stuff tonight that Deron can really thrive in, and if the shots go down, then everybody's gonna feel good."

Williams says it comes down to being able to execute and find the right balance.

"We have great plays," he said. "We've had instances where we've had great offense, so it's not a problem. It's a problem with consistently executing. And we do run a lot of ISO plays, which benefits a lot of other people, so we're gonna continue to run those plays, because that's Joe (Johnson)'s game, that's what he's most successful at, and then Brook on the block as well."