Monday, December 5, 2011
Updated: December 6, 8:33 AM ET
Deron Williams open to Nets deal
By Mike Mazzeo
New Jersey Nets point guard Deron Williams may be opting out of his contract at the end of the 2011-12 season, but no need to worry. Williams doesn't plan on leaving.
"My plan is to stay," Williams said during an interview with WFAN radio Monday. "Hopefully we get some good talent in here to where I can stay."
Williams estimated that his chances of staying are "90 percent."
Williams seemed to dispel any rumors of joining Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire with the New York Knicks.
"That would be very unlikely," Williams said.
The Nets could be armed with $22 million to $23 million in cap space if they use the amnesty clause to cut Travis Outlaw and the remaining four years and $28 million on his contract, and renounce Kris Humphries' $6 million cap hold. The club is pursuing a bevy of free agents in an attempt to surround Williams with top-notch talent. Nene, Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler, sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein and ESPNDallas.com's Jeff Caplan, are expected to visit the team's practice facility this week.
Sources also told Stein that the Nets are preparing a blockbuster trade offer in an effort to land Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard. In the proposal, the Nets would sent Brook Lopez and two future first-round picks to Orlando in exchange for Howard and the remaining three years and $35 million on Hedo Turkoglu's contract.
Williams called Howard "the most dominant big man in the NBA" and said if there's one player in the entire league he'd like to play with, it's "D-12". The two talk frequently, Williams said, but he wouldn't get into any speculation about a potential pairing. Howard also can opt out of his contract, and the Magic are weighing their options with regard to trading him or potentially losing him for nothing at the end of the season.
"I think if you're a point guard and you could play with D-12 and you leave, you're not very smart," Williams said.
Williams also seemed to dispel any rumors of he and Howard joining forces in Los Angeles.
"I don't think there's any way that can work out," he said.
The 28-year-old Williams reiterated the Nets' need for a center to play alongside the 23-year-old Lopez in the frontcourt. Nene and Chandler would both fit that bill. A league source told ESPNNewYork.com that there's "a good chance" that the Nets land one of the two.
"I like both of those guys, to tell you the truth," said Williams, citing Chandler's defensive prowess in the paint and Nene's offensive skill on the interior. "Both of those guys would change the dynamic of this team instantly."
The two-time All-Star point guard said he's going to be renting a place in SoHo and loves New York.
Williams explained his reasoning as to why his agent decided to divulge that his client would be opting out of his contract at the end of the season.
"Financially it makes sense for me to opt out," Williams said. "It has nothing to do with the Nets. I love the organization."
By opting out and re-signing, Williams could get one year and close to $30 million more on his contract than he could if he reaches an accord elsewhere. If he signed an extension during the season it would've only added two years onto his current contract. He's slated to make a pro-rated amount of $16.4 million (because of the lockout) in 2011-12. He'll be opting out of the final year and $17.8 million on his contract due for 2012-13, the first year the Nets move to Brooklyn.
Williams has every intention of leading the Nets to the playoffs, but ultimately, he wants a championship and a place he can play for the rest of his career. The Nets' roster is still very much unfinished, but given their cap space and flexibility going forward, their future looks bright. Plus, they're about to move into a $1 billion arena and their owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, wants to win.
Williams is looking forward to playing this season. His surgically repaired right shooting wrist is fine now, he said, and he's certainly in playing shape as a result of his month-and-a-half stint with Beskitas in Turkey.
"It was a great experience," Williams said, "a bright spot of the lockout for me."
Williams even thought he might have to play the whole season overseas, but the lockout finally ended after 149 days.
"One day I woke up and it was over," Williams said.
Beskitas retired Williams jersey before he left, a move he called "crazy" because he only played 15 games, although he did score 50 points in one of them. At the same time, Williams called the gesture "an honor."
For Williams, the last nine months of his life can only be described as a whirlwind.
The Utah Jazz dealt him to New Jersey in a blindsiding move at the February trade deadline two weeks after the departure of coach Jerry Sloan. Many believe Williams' frequently clashes with Sloan -- including a heated argument right before he left -- was the reason Sloan decided he'd had enough.
"I respected coach Sloan," Williams said, as he has in the past. "I respected everything he did for me."
At first, Williams was upset about the trade.
"I'm not gonna lie, I wasn't ecstatic," Williams said. "My wife was nine months pregnant and I was supposed to play in Dallas in front of my family that day."
Since then, he's embraced his new surroundings and is ready to embark on a new challenge.
"It was tough at first, but it's a new chapter and I'm excited about it," Williams said.
He had nothing but good things to say about the Nets' organization and hopes to lead the franchise back to prominence the way Jason Kidd did nearly a decade ago.
"We don't have a storied franchise like the Knicks, Lakers or Celtics do," Williams said. "But we could build that, especially going to Brooklyn."
Mike Mazzeo is a frequent contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.