Nets steal some of Knicks' thunder, land Williams

February, 23, 2011
2/23/11
12:30
PM ET
During my first appearance on Sportscenter Tuesday afternoon, I referred to the billboard that owner Mikhail Prohkorov and Jay-Z put up across the street from Madison Square Garden.

It said, "The Blueprint for Greatness." But after the Nets failed to land LeBron James, Rudy Gay, Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony (after all the Melo Drama they went through), I called it "The Blueprint for Disappointment."

Not anymore.

The Nets came out of nowhere Wednesday morning and acquired superstar point guard Deron Williams in a blockbuster trade with the Utah Jazz. Not only that, they gave up less than they would've given up for Anthony (two firsts, instead of four) while stealing some of the New York Knicks' thunder in the process.

Anthony is set to make his Madison Square Garden debut Wednesday night.

There's just one caveat that separates this move from being a layup to a slam dunk, and that's Williams signing an extension. He is slated to become an unrestricted free agent -- if he opts out of the final year of his contract worth $17.9 million -- after the 2011-12 season.

According to some of my colleagues at ESPN, Williams cannot sign an extension with the Nets until July 9, 2011 if the rules stay the same under the current CBA. Williams signed an extension with the Jazz on July 9, 2008, and, per NBA regulations, must wait three years after the previous extension is signed. That is, of course, if the current CBA still exists by that date.

The reason for that is here. (No. 52). Williams signed a four-year, $70 million contract, and that means a mandatory three-year wait.

So it basically comes down to this: The Nets need to ink Williams to an extension by the time they move -- or are supposed to move -- to Brooklyn in 2012-13.

Otherwise, they'd be paying a lot -- in the form of Derrick Favors and Devin Harris plus those picks -- for a luxury rental.

For now, though, the Nets and their fans should be ecstatic.

They just landed a 21-point, 10-assist per game player who may arguably be the best point guard in the entire league.

That calls for celebration.

Looks like "The Blueprint for Greatness" billboard makes sense now.

The Nets finally have their superstar player. Their first franchise-changer since Jason Kidd. The question is: can they keep him?

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Brook Lopez
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 0.9 0.5 31.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 6.6
AssistsD. Williams 6.1
StealsD. Williams 1.5
BlocksB. Lopez 1.8

NEW YORK CALENDAR