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Friday, January 20, 2012
Latest on D-12: Five quick thoughts

By Mike Mazzeo

Sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard Friday that Deron Williams will likely leave the Nets if they don’t get Dwight Howard. Possible destinations for D-Will include the Lakers, Knicks or Mavericks, Broussard reports.

Five quick thoughts:

1. Before the season started, D-Will said he was 90 percent sure he’d stay with the Nets ... assuming they put the right pieces around him. D-12’s reps have said that his first choice is to join D-Will in New Jersey/Brooklyn. In my book, that has to be reason for optimism. Remember, Melo never expressed interest in playing with the Nets last season, and he ended up a Knick.

2. I can’t see the Nets trading D-Will to the Knicks, their hated rivals. Would they really want to trade for Amare’s surgically-repaired knees or Melo, who, despite “being from Brooklyn,” clearly wanted no part of their rebuilding project and can’t do much else but score? The Nuggets are 28-12 since trading Melo. The Knicks are 20-22 since dealing for him. That has to say something right? Also, don’t forget what D-Will said about playing for the Knicks when asked about the possibility in the offseason: “That would be very unlikely.”

3. While it is possible that there could be a “Big Three in Big D,” it seems improbable. The Mavs would basically have to gut their entire team minus Dirk to make it happen. Surely D-Will would have to consider going home, and the idea of that trio playing together is a scary one, but seriously? Now, if D-12 and D-Will became free agents, the Nets would be able to surround them with rookie stud MarShon Brooks, a 2012 lottery pick and possibly Brook Lopez. And then there’s that whole New York market and the $1 billion Barclays Center too. In that scenario, the Nets have to like their chances.

4. Reports are that the only way the Nets’ hand would be forced is if D-12 is traded to the Lakers. If that does happen, what can you do? The Nets can offer more money --a year and around $30 million to be more precise -- but D-Will wants a championship. The Nets will have a lot of cap space, but ultimately, he and D-12 are the main prizes. Otherwise, the Nets are settling for lesser talent, and D-Will won't stand for settling.

5. What if Lopez returns and doesn’t miss a beat? The Nets could then build a package around him and a combination of Brooks and the lottery pick. Not sure if they could convince Orlando ownership to make the move -- they may have to recruit more teams, GM Billy King is adept at that -- and D-12 would likely have to deal with not making the playoffs. Seems unlikely. But when it comes to the NBA, you never know.