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If you take Deron Williams’ temperature on Jersey, bring something to keep warm

Mar 26, 2011, 9:00 PM EDT

NBA London 2011 -  New Jersey Nets v Toronto Raptors Getty Images

Deron Williams is the future of the Nets. He’s the star that Mikhail Prokhorov has been searching for since he took over ownership of the team. Thwarted in the lottery for John Wall, thwarted in the biggest free agency period in history, thwarted in the pursuit of Melo, the Nets finally landed a superstar, and better yet, a superstar point guard, to build around. It was a slam dunk. Many said they got a better deal out of it than the Knicks got with Melo.

Just one problem. Williams is a free agent in 2012, and should he opt out and elect not to re-sign in free agency, the Nets would have traded a boatload of assets for a year and a half of great point guard play and a whole lot of embarrassment. But that’s not going to happen, right? The New York Daily News has an expansive feature on Williams that talks about a number of issues, from how to pronounce his name to his family to religion to his “disappointment” upon being traded to the Nets. He produces a lot of good noise about New Jersey, talking about how he’s excited for the future and happy about the direction of the organization. Of course, if you find me a player who’s willing to talk about how he’s not excited about the direction of the organization outside of Kevin Love, I’ll give you a shiny nickel. Then there’s this little gem on the first page:

The Nets are talking as if this is a foregone conclusion and they are marketing him as such. But Williams isn’t ready to commit to anything or to entertain a deal until he has a better feel for his new home.

“How can you commit to something you just got into? I just got here,” says Williams, who has missed the last five games with his wrist injury. “I haven’t even been here a month. How can I just say I’m going to stay here? That’ll be great because that’s what people want to hear, but I can’t say that.”

via People get Deron Williams’ name wrong all the time but the Nets say that’s all about to change.

The real issue here is that Williams is following the LeBron-Melo-Bosh-Wade playbook. Make it clear that re-signing is a distinct possibility, and push the idea that it’s only logical you’d explore free agency. This allows you to maneuver while ducking criticism. For a while.

The reality is that this quote is far more indicative of the reality of the situation:

“I’m going to need some help,” Williams says. “We’re going to need to get some other pieces.”

More of the same, “show me the star power” rhetoric that seems to shine through so many star athletes in the NBA these days. Never, “I want to win here.” Only “You’d better help me win here.” At least in Williams’ case he didn’t choose this situation.

  1. tubal22 - Mar 26, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    Good luck New Jersey. This is pretty much the same thing he did in Utah. I don’t blame him for not committing, but in this day and age, an NBA team can’t count on anyone staying. I miss the days of old when you had Jordan, Magic, Stockton, etc who were part of their cities, and franchises. Not just some hired guns to win a championship.

    There’s no heart left in the NBA. It’s all about the money and the fame.

    • zackd2 - Mar 27, 2011 at 10:07 AM

      Lakers gave Magic a 25 year / $25m contract. Imagine the hate Lebron would get if he signed a 25 year / $250m contract with the Cavs.

    • zackd2 - Mar 27, 2011 at 10:12 AM

      Is this the same Jordan who threatened to retire if Pippen was traded? Oh ok.

      Just so I understand: It’s OK for Jordan to dictate team’s moves, but it’s wrong for Lebron & co to want to see their actual future team before they sign an extension. And it’s OK for Magic to take a 25/$25m contract, but Lebron & Co are all about the money and fame.

  2. goforthanddie - Mar 26, 2011 at 10:13 PM

    DWill isn’t Bosh, Amare, or Mr. Vasquez; you can actually build a team around him. People will want to play with him. And he knows this. Great players will be lining up to come to NJ once he re-signs, and he could sit down with Comrade Owner and pick and choose his team.

  3. rondo35 - Mar 27, 2011 at 5:48 AM

    @tubal22 I don’t think that’s true.. Pierce, Ginobili, Duncan, Kobe etc.

    • zackd2 - Mar 27, 2011 at 11:06 AM

      Kobe demanded a trade. And Pierce was about to after the draft if they didn’t get KG & Ray. But lets just ignore that and call they “old school” players, while Melo, Deron & Lebron ruin the NBA.

      “I remember us saying neither one of us thought we’d be back with our team,” Pierce said of his conversations with Bryant. “I remember I was just betting who would get to another team first, because he felt strongly about moving on with the Lakers and I felt the same with Boston. So it’s kind of ironic that we’re in this position on the same teams playing each other for a championship.”

  4. fanoredsox - Mar 27, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    His comment was he needs time to determine if this is where he wants to stay. Time? You went to a team that has an owner that is willing to pretty much do anything to win and he considers you the building block of his franchise. As a player you can’t ask for more than that. Williams is just coming off like the other douche bags in the league. These people need a reality check. This guy made Sloan quit. Jerry Sloan! How much of a prick are you that you can make a Hall of Fame coach quit. Sloan had seen some gems come through his locker room before, but apparently this guy took the cake. These guys are so self absorbed that they can’t get out of their own way to help themselves to win a championship.

  5. jaypace - Mar 27, 2011 at 11:56 AM


    You fail to mention mj also took far below his market value so the bulls could keep a competitive team on the court. Please don’t compare what lebron does to mj because there is no comparison.

    • zackd2 - Mar 27, 2011 at 12:53 PM

      Um, LeBron took below the Max-level deal so he could put a competitive team on the court?

      • adamthompson24 - Mar 27, 2011 at 3:18 PM

        Um, seriously? Lebron and Wade took like a million less per year…like 10 million total over their multi year max contracts. We’re talking about 5-7% of their total salary. They will earn a quarter billion dollars just from annual salary during their careers, not including endorsements. Wow, Let’s give them a medal for their charitable contributions. What a sacrifice, how will they cope in their 10k square foot beach house mansions? They will really miss those few millions when looking at the other couple hundred in their bank accounts. They left so little on the table that Ripey had to ship out Beasley for a second rounder. Think he could be a decent 6th man for them? You know, if it was all about winning? While we’re at it, let’s give Lebron a humanitarian award for the decision. Obviously the sole purpose of that telecast was for the kids’ benefit, not his, right? For Lebron image isn’t everything. It’s the only thing. He wants to win for his image, not to be the greatest ever. If he wanted to be the greatest ever, he would’ve never traveled to another stars team to try and manufacture championships. This is a guy so self-absorbed that he said the “hardest part of the season will be practice. The games? The games will be easy” and then predicted up to 8 championships for a team where two of it’s 3 best players had never won a title, with one of them never even winning a playoff series…he’s perhaps the biggest frontrunner in the history of sports (see picture taking, chatter hands when winning; crying, blaming, quitting when losing). I personally love the move. No more excuses for James, and it lot a fire under the entire league.

      • zackd2 - Mar 27, 2011 at 5:22 PM

        Why are you so angry? The discussion isn’t about their savings, it’s about the claim that MJ took less to keep the team together. MJ took “less” was still the highest paid player in the league, or maybe 2nd behind Magic.

        Lebron did the same damn thing. Instead of being stuck in Cleveland with Varajo, Boobie, and Hickson for 4 years- he took money and is in Miami with Wade, Bosh & Co.

        Those are the facts.

  6. adamthompson24 - Mar 27, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    Jordan’s situation was completely different than Bron’s because of the differences in the CBA andcap stricture between then and now. I’m not sure the details of the salary cap back then but from what I understand players salary ranges were pretty free to be negotiated. Most importantly though, Reinsdorf was and still is a penny pincher. Jordan was grossly underpaid for the first 10 years of his career, making ridiculous $3-4 mil salaries while the Bulls were profiting handsomely and racking up titles on his back. Jordan was the cash cow for Reinsdorf and Jordan finally had enough and demanded the type of salary he rightfully deserved. The reason for my rant is mostly to downplay Lebron’s “noble sacrifice” because it’s such a petty thing to applaud. I mean what’s really the significance of making 14.5 mil vs 16 mil? When you are Wade or Lebron your endorsements likely match your NBA salary. His net worth surely exceeds $200 mil, so I just can’t understand commending a guy on leaving $10 mil on the table to go play with his friends in South Beach. Lebron gets paid like $20k just to make club appearances. Money will never be a concern and he can afford anything he wants. My point is Jordan making about 20% of his true value for a decade and then demanding a monster salary for one or two years is really apples to oranges compared to Lebron “sacrificing” such a small fraction of his net worth. And also I just enjoy popping the balloon on Lebron fanboys. Sorry

  7. dysraw1 - Mar 27, 2011 at 9:06 PM

    the new jersey nets, soon to be brooklyn nets r my second favorite franchise in the nba. not only have they a fine history of putting good teams on the floor, dr j, dr k, kenny anderson & co, j kidd & his crew. they also compete in heavy geographical battle with the knicks. so i wish nothing but good for these guys

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