D-Will looking forward to free agency?
April, 3, 2012
By Mike Mazzeo | ESPNNewYork.com
Will he stay? Will he go?
But it sounds as though Deron Williams is looking forward to being a free agent and finally having the chance to chose where he wants to play next season -- sort of.
“People get traded all the time,” Williams told Yahoo! Sports on Monday. “They don’t get backlash as an organization. If [players] leave, we are not loyal, we are ungrateful. People say stuff to me on Twitter. They already think I’m gone. They are out there bashing me, saying to me I’m a traitor.
“I didn’t ask to be here. I got traded. I didn’t come here being a free agent. This is the first time that I’m a free agent in my career.”
The Nets are hopeful Williams stays. They are moving to Brooklyn and a $1 billion arena next season. They can give the All-Star point guard more money than any other team. Williams has a great relationship with upper management and has joked that he’s the “assistant to the assistant GM.” He loves living in New York, and all the marketing opportunities he’s been afforded as a result of being here.
And yet, they say home is where the heart is, and that makes Dallas an extremely appealing fit. Williams could play with Dirk Nowitzki. At the same time, the Mavericks would still have to put a solid supporting cast around them. At 27 and entering the prime of his career, as Williams reiterated to Yahoo! Sports, all he cares about is winning.
Basically, it is what it is. Williams is going to opt out, and then the Nets, Mavericks and any other suitors are going to make their sales pitches.
The Nets’ pitch certainly would’ve been a lot easier to make if they had Dwight Howard on the roster. But Howard was “loyal” (we use the term very loosely, of course), and decided to stick with Orlando -- at least through next season, anyway.
Williams told Yahoo! Sports he “probably” would’ve re-signed with the Nets had they been able to reel in Howard.
“It’s a decision he made for himself,” Williams said. “I really have no comment on it. He did what was best for him. I respect that. I’m still friends with him.
“Oh yeah, it definitely would have changed things. I’ve already made it known that if he would have come I probably would have stayed.”
Just like the Nets “probably” would’ve been a playoff team if not for the litany of injuries that has decimated their roster all season and led to zero continuity and a lot of losses.
But they aren’t. Gerald “Crash” Wallace has been a great addition, and the hope is his all-out intensity and will to win on each and every possession will rub off on his younger teammates.
At the same time, wins over the Pacers, Warriors and Kings have hurt the Nets’ chances of retaining the top-3 protected first-rounder they dealt to get Wallace.
Nevertheless, coach Avery Johnson told reporters on a conference call that the Nets plan on playing to win the rest of the way. In other words, no tanking here.
Twelves games remain on the schedule. The Nets’ time in New Jersey is coming to a close.
The Nets hope that they open the Barclays Center with a starting lineup that includes D-Will (maxed out for five years and $109 million, of course), MarShon Brooks (going into his sophomore year), Wallace (who opts in at $9.5 million), a free-agent power forward (sources have told ESPNNewYork.com and other outlets that the Nets plan to pursue Kevin Garnett, Ryan Anderson or Ersan Ilyasova) and Brook Lopez (healthy and locked up off of restricted free agency), and a bench that features Anthony Morrow, Gerald Green (the other pleasant out-of-nowhere surprise in the NYC area this season) and the Rockets’ first-rounder. Oh, and there’s always a tiny chance the Nets could win the lottery (Anthony Davis, anyone?)
But none of that is set in stone. Far from it.
GM Billy King says he has a Plan B and C in case Plan A doesn’t work out. Coming off what will be their fifth straight season missing the playoffs, Nets fans starving for wins can only hope he doesn’t need them.