Deron Williams says he'll opt out
New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams will not waive his early termination option as Magic center Dwight Howard just did, according to a report, and intends to opt out and become a free agent at the end of the season.
"I'm not going to opt-in. It's not monkey-see, monkey-do," Williams told the New York Daily News Friday morning. "Wherever I go is hopefully where I'm going to retire."
Williams was unwilling to compare his situation to Howard's. The Magic center changed his mind several times Wednesday before ultimately deciding to stay in Orlando through 2012-13.
"I'm not (going through the same things) because I've said all year I'm going to play this whole year out and see what happens," said Williams, who announced his intention through his agent to opt out before the 2011-12 season began. "So I haven't been flip-flopping and gone back and forth. It's not even close to being the same situation."
The Dallas Mavericks are expected to pursue Williams, who grew up in a Dallas suburb, but Nets general manager Billy King doesn't seem concerned.
"They are a threat but they've got to do a lot of work to get to the point of creating the space for him, moving and cutting players," King said in an interview with WFAN.
King said his confidence level in re-signing Williams is "very high." The Nets can offer Williams a five-year, $109 million max contract if he opts out, about a year and $28 million more than any other team.
King said he never asked Williams to waive his ETO and was never going to trade him.
"Why would I ask him to take a one-year deal when he can opt out and get a five-year deal and get security for his family?" King said.
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The Nets moved into "win now" mode at Thursday's trade deadline, sending center Mehmet Okur, small forward Shawne Williams and their 2012 first-round pick, top-3 protected, to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for forward Gerald Wallace.
The Nets are 15-29 and 4½ games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but are hopeful they can make a run.
Williams has spoken highly of his relationship with Nets management and the bevy of marketing opportunities he's received since he was traded to New Jersey in February 2011. He also raves about living in New York.
Williams has reiterated his desire to stay with the Nets, assuming they put the right pieces around him, but he hates losing.
"He's said he doesn't want to be part of a rebuilding project, so we're trying to win," King said.
The Nets are hopeful that acquiring Wallace goes a long way toward appeasing Williams and putting a contender on the court when the team moves to Brooklyn and the $1 billion Barclays Center next season.
Like Williams, Wallace can opt out, but King said in a post-trade conference call Thursday night that he isn't concerned. On Friday, he added that he's in conversations with Wallace's representatives. He would not disclose details of either that talk or those that he's had with Williams.
King told the radio station he's currently in talks with small forward Gerald Green's representatives about extending him for the rest of this season and next season as well. King added that the team hasn't had conversations regarding an extension for power forward Kris Humphries, saying "we want to keep our options open."
Green, who is playing on his second 10-day contract, is averaging 11 points per game since the Nets first signed him Feb. 27. They must decide by Sunday whether to keep Green for the rest of the season or let him go.
The Nets announced that they've signed combo guard Jerry Smith to a 10-day contract off their D-League affiliate, the Springfield Armor. They had an extra roster spot because they traded two players and got only one in return.
Williams, who has missed the past three games with a strained right calf, is listed as questionable for Friday's game, but he told reporters in Orlando he doesn't believe he'll play. The point guard did say, however, that he believes he'll be able to return Saturday night when the Nets take on the New Orleans Hornets at home.
Wallace will be introduced to the New Jersey media during a pregame news conference Saturday, when he is expected to make his Nets debut.
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.