ESPN LA examines D-Will to the Lakeshow

January, 18, 2012
1/18/12
2:18
PM ET
Nets point guard Deron Williams has said he’s “90 percent” sure that he’ll stay with the team, assuming they put the right pieces around him.

But what about the other 10?

ESPN LA columnist Ramona Shelburne explores the Lakers’ potential involvement in trying to land D-Will:

Here’s what a league source tells her:

"They can't even talk about that trade again until Brook Lopez comes back and proves he's healthy. And to be honest, I think New Jersey has kind of figured out that they're going to lose [Williams] unless they can get Dwight Howard there, too."

"Personally, I think he ends up in Dallas. Mark [Cuban] is not going to make the moves he did [letting Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler and J.J. Barea leave as free agents] without feeling pretty good about getting one of those guys [Williams or Howard] at some point.

"Who knows, maybe they'll get both, but I think it's an either/or thing. It's just too hard to pull off. So if Dallas is getting one of them, the Lakers need to figure out how to get the other. Or they need to decide whether they're better off sticking with what they have."


The Nets, though, have remained confident that they’ll be able to re-sign Williams, who has already stated he’s going to opt out of the final year of his contract at the end of the season and become a free agent. Remember, Williams can get a year and approximately $30 million more by signing with the Nets as opposed to going somewhere else (four years, $70 million to five years, $100 million). That is a HUGE amount of money.

It’d be tough to turn down. Then again, Williams wants to win, and if a team like the Lakers or Mavericks give him a better chance to do that, it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if he bolts. The Nets are 3-11 -- 7-18 in games Williams has played -- and the losing is waning on him. Heck, NBA GMs don’t even see him as a top-three point guard this season. Given that he’s shooting 36.6 percent from the field and leads the league in turnovers, it’s easy to see why.

The Nets aren’t done with their pursuit of Howard by any stretch. But as the source says, the Nets can’t engage in serious discussions with the Magic until Lopez -- the centerpiece of earlier talks -- gets back on the court and proves he’s healthy and capable of putting up 20 points and eight rebounds or so per game. Coach Avery Johnson said Wednesday that Lopez -- who has a $7.4 million qualifying offer next season but will almost certainly want a long-term deal -- remains on track in his rehab from a fractured right foot, is no longer wearing a boot and has put on some added muscle.

If the Nets don’t land D-12, Brooklyn, despite being in the NBA’s No. 1 market and its $1 billion Barclays Center, doesn’t look as enticing.
Now, the Nets could decide to keep D-Will and try to sign he and D-12 in the offseason -- D-12’s reps have said his first choice is the Nets, after all. But would they really be willing to lose him for nothing? A catastrophic event like that be a crushing blow for a team playing in a new city to take.

ESPN.com’s Marc Stein has cited sources telling him that the Nets would basically be forced to deal D-Will if D-12 ended up with the Lakers because D-Will would be “a virtual lock to leave.”

At this point, it seems, the Nets have to hope that the Magic either don’t trade D-12 or move him to a team as a rental, knowing he’s not going to sign there.

At the same time, they’re hopeful Lopez will return to form, rookie MarShon Brooks will continue to shine and develop and if they keep losing, they’ll end up with a top-5 pick in a very strong draft. In a perfect world, they'd be able to add both D-12 and D-Will into that mix, forming one of the most dynamic and dominant young cores in the league.

If all these scenarios are making your head spin, you’re not alone by any means.

And to think, it’s only mid-January.

Mike Mazzeo

ESPN New York Writer

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Joe Johnson
PTS AST STL MIN
16.4 3.7 1.0 34.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsK. Garnett 7.9
AssistsD. Williams 6.7
StealsJ. Jack 1.1
BlocksB. Lopez 1.5