Deron Williams progresses towards return

Deron Williams (AP)
Deron Williams (AP)
Deron Williams won’t be on the court for the Nets Friday, but his return date seems to be sooner rather than later. The Nets announced that Williams returned to and participated in most of the team’s official practice Thursday afternoon, marking the first time Williams has done contact drills since feeling the injury.

Despite his return, Williams was ruled out for Friday’s game against the Toronto Raptors, marking his earliest return at home on February 2nd against Chris Paul & the Los Angeles Clippers.

Williams has battled what the team called a fracture of the cartilage portion of his lower 12th rib since January 4th. He last played a four-minute stint off the bench on January 7th, before the fracture was found, and left the game in obvious pain. Williams returned to non-contact practice this past Tuesday before participating in contact drills today.

The Nets are 2-11 since Williams first felt the injury and 18-27 overall, ranking them 9th in the Eastern Conference race, a half-game behind the Charlotte Hornets. The Nets have been looking for a trade partner to shed themselves of Williams’s contract (due to pay him $42 million over the next two seasons), but found few suitors beyond the Sacramento Kings, who also requested Mason Plumlee in any trade.