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Deron Williams has bad news for Nets

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Deron Williams could opt for less money to join Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas this summer. (Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

There can’t be any more depressing basketball-related piece of news for a New Jersey/Brooklyn fan to read than this quote from Deron Williams to Yahoo! Sports’ Marc Spears on the possibility of teaming with Dwight Howard over the long haul:

“It’s a decision [Howard] 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.”

Williams is referring to Howard’s decision just ahead of the March 15 trade deadline to opt in with the Magic for next season, effectively delaying his free agency for one year. Williams could do the same via a player option worth $17.8 million, but he reaffirmed to Spears on Monday that he will decline that option:

“People get traded all the time,” Williams told Yahoo! Sports. “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.”

Williams, of course, is right to exercise the same career self-determination any of these Twitter jockeys would want for themselves. What’s interesting is that Williams is actually sacrificing a bit of salary in doing so.

Under the new cap rules, Williams could have maximized his earnings in both the short and long term by opting in for next season at that $17.8 million price and then re-signing with New Jersey after next season via a five-year deal starting at about $18.7 million in Year 1 and growing by 7.5 percent annually after that. That would net Williams about $126.2 million over six years. Read More…


  • Published On 1:14pm, Apr 03, 2012
  • Nets get Gerald Wallace, but future still rests on Deron Williams

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    Gerald Wallace, who was shipped to the Nets, is likely to exercise his $9.5 million player option for next season. (Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)

    After Dwight Howard ended the Nets’ dream of pairing him with Deron Williams next season, the Nets have apparently gone to Plan B: mortgaging the future, at least a bit, in an attempt to please Williams by constructing a mid-level playoff team next season and chasing a star free agent again in the summer of 2013.

    New Jersey will acquire Gerald Wallace from the Trail Blazers in exchange for Mehmet Okur’s expiring contract, Shawne Williams and New Jersey’s first-round pick in the loaded 2012 draft, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.

    A key detail here: The Nets’ pick is only top-three protected, which means the Blazers receive the pick if it falls in the No. 4 slot or lower. The Nets currently have the sixth-worst record in the league, and it will be borderline impossible for them to finish below Washington, Charlotte or New Orleans in the standings; an upward push for the 8th seed would seem more likely now that Wallace is a Net. The protection allows the Nets to keep the pick if they exceed expectations in the lottery, but they will mostly likely send the Blazers a pick in the 5-10 range.

    That’s a solid return for a Portland team in free-fall this season, and it allows it to slot Nicolas Batum in as its present and future starting small forward. Batum has been starting as the team’s nominal shooting guard of late, and that has created a log jam, given the presence of Wesley Matthews, Jamal Crawford and explosive second-year player Elliot Williams.

    Wallace has a $9.5 million player option for next season, which he’s very likely to exercise; his deal expires after that.

    Exchanging Wallace for Williams saves the Blazers about $6.4 million in salary for next season, and if Jamal Crawford declines his player option, Portland could have enough cap space to re-sign Batum at market price and have between $15 and $20 million in cap space left over. That’s not a bad place to be, especially if a certain max-level free agent point guard becomes available. The Blazers will have that cap space, plus a franchise big man in LaMarcus Aldridge, two solid wings in Batum and Matthews, some decent young pieces and (assuming Portland and New Jersey both miss the playoffs) two 2012 lottery picks. Again: Not bad. Read More…


  • Published On 2:38pm, Mar 15, 2012
  • Nets face financial obstacles to get Dwight Howard in free agency

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    According to a recent report, Dwight Howard is determined to join the Nets, if not via trade by Thursday, then as a free agent this summer. (Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)

    With 48 hours to go before the trade deadline, the Dwight Howard saga has descended into madness. We officially reached rock bottom this morning, when ESPN.com’s Ric Bucher reported the Magic are prepared to offer Dwight Howard hiring and firing power over GM Otis Smith and head coach Stan Van Gundy, a nearly unfathomable bit of kowtowing, even if franchise players on Howard’s level might be rarer commodities than GMs and top-level head coaches.

    The Magic have denied the report, saying only the team’s ownership will decide such things. And meanwhile, one of the league’s half-dozen best head coaches game plans for the Heat tonight.

    And this afternoon comes word from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports that Howard, regardless of the sweet nothings he may or may not be whispering to Magic CEO Alex Martins, has made up his mind and wants to bolt for New Jersey/Brooklyn as a free agent:

    Howard is privately telling people the acquisition of an All-Star player and more complementary players could sway him to stay, league sources told Y! Sports’ Marc Spears, but that scenario is far-fetched given the limited appeal of Orlando’s trade assets.

    And:

    Martins has improved the franchise’s relationship with Howard, multiple sources told Yahoo! Sports. But as one source talking to Martins and Howard said: “That’s great, but [Dwight’s] still going to leave.”

    The Nets, per Wojnarowski, have a dream scenario, one I mentioned on Monday: Read More…


  • Published On 3:56pm, Mar 13, 2012
  • Numbers Game: How Dallas could get Dwight Howard AND Deron Williams

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    If Dwight Howard opts out and becomes a free agent, he could sign a four-year deal with a first-year salary of $18,996,358 elsewhere. (Greg Nelson/SI)

    It has been repeated throughout the league for months now: If the Mavericks can find a way to trade Shawn Marion, use the amnesty provision on Brendan Haywood and move all or most of their other players before free agency begins, they will have enough cap space to offer max-level contracts to both Dwight Howard and Deron Williams.

    Reality is more complex for everyone involved once you dig into the numbers, which I’ve done with help from several cap gurus and lawyers.

    Dirk Nowitzki will earn $20,907,128 next season, per ShamSports and other sources. The salary cap for 2012-13 is expected to stay almost precisely flat at around $58,044,000.

    Even assuming the Mavs move Marion and amnesty Haywood between now and July 1, they are still on the hook for guaranteed money to the following players, per ShamSports: Read More…


  • Published On 2:33pm, Feb 28, 2012
  • Acquiring veterans in any deal for Dwight Howard won’t help Magic

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    Orlando discussed a possible Dwight Howard trade with Atlanta that would've involved Joe Johnson and other veteran players with big contracts. (AP)

    Marc Stein of ESPN.com has filed the latest on the Dwight Howard trade talks, focusing on the sort of package the Magic want:

    Sources familiar with Orlando’s thinking say that a picture of what the Magic will ultimately expect in return for their anchor has indeed begun to emerge, telling ESPN.com this week that Orlando would not hold out for youth and draft picks as the league-owned New Orleans Hornets were ordered to do in the Chris Paul sweepstakes. The Magic, sources say, would instead prefer to bring back multiple established veterans who can keep the team competitive.

    The Magic have a shiny new arena to fill, and their owner, 85-year-old Rich DeVos, has no taste for a rebuild.

    And then this:

    Sources told ESPN.com that the aforementioned Hawks, meanwhile, engaged Orlando in trade talks for Howard earlier this month with an offer believed to be headlined by $124 million guard Joe Johnson and swingman Josh Smith. You have to figure that the Magic, though, would insist on Al Horford if such discussions ever got serious.

    Atlanta believed it was making “progress” in the talks before Magic GM Otis Smith temporarily ended all Howard trade discussions, Stein reports.

    As you’ll recall, Stein and others reported a couple of weeks ago that the Nets, Blazers and Magic were working on a three-team deal that would have sent Howard to New Jersey and yielded Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and at least one first-rounder for the Magic, with the Blazers receiving multiple picks for their assistance. (The Nets were reportedly willing to send out as many as five first-rounders combined to Portland and Orlando.) The Magic would have dumped both Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Duhon on New Jersey, a contract-shedding bonanza that would have required the Nets to send at least one other asset — probably Jordan Farmar — out in the deal. Read More…


  • Published On 1:59pm, Dec 28, 2011
  • Brook Lopez’s broken foot puts Nets’ pursuit of Dwight Howard in danger

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    Brook Lopez fractured the fifth metatarsal in his foot, the same injury that kept Roddy Beaubois out for six months. (Cal Sport Media)

    Brook Lopez is a very good player, but the NBA turns on franchise-level superstars, and so news that Lopez has a stress fracture in his right foot is extra-important because of what it might mean for Dwight Howard and Deron Williams. Lopez has broken his fifth metatarsal, according to the Nets, and early reports suggest Lopez could return in four to six weeks. The Nets are optimistic Lopez could return sometime in early February, before the March 15 trade deadline, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.

    That sounds quite optimistic. The Mavericks’ Roddy Beaubois suffered the same injury in August of 2010, and he wasn’t back on the floor in an NBA game for six months — and he’s a guard, not a 7-footer. F.D. Kharrazi, a surgeon at the prestigious Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles and a consultant for the Lakers, estimates the total time for recovery and rehab from Lopez’s injury at somewhere between three and four months. The latter figure would cost Lopez the entire season. Other studies of the fifth metatarsal injuries have indicated a stress fracture is perhaps the most serious sort of fracture one can suffer there.

    The Nets aren’t going anywhere this season, so the first natural reaction is to ask what this means for New Jersey’s pursuit of Howard. A package centered around Lopez, first-round picks and assets drawn from a third team is one of the few that makes realistic sense for Orlando, even if said package will not approach Howard’s solo value. Trading a superstar isn’t easy, and you never get one in return. Lopez’s injury and iffy timetable for recovery make this process even trickier for the Nets. On the one hand, Lopez has never missed a game before this, and he is pretty much a known commodity at this point. Even if he’s injured at the trade deadline, why wouldn’t the Magic, knowing Howard is going to bolt in free agency, acquire Lopez, retain his rights as a restricted free agent and move on? It’s not as if they have much leverage, with Howard having already requested a trade (to the Nets, Lakers or Mavs) and so many of the league’s teams clearing cap room for this summer.

    On the flip side, I don’t have to tell you about the history of big guys and foot issues. It’s far too simplistic to equate Lopez with prior big men who have suffered chronic foot problems; every individual body is different, and Lopez has no prior injury history at the NBA level. And most players — Beaubois, Pau Gasol in 2006, others — seem to have recovered fully from this specific injury, with no lasting effects or related injuries linked to overcompensating elsewhere. But you wouldn’t blame the Magic for feeling gun-shy on Lopez now. You certainly wouldn’t blame them if they asked for more assets in any theoretical Lopez-centric Howard deal, or for re-engaging other teams whose trade packages (Andrew Bynum?) suddenly look a little better.

    As for the Nets, the loss of Lopez, an efficient interior scorer who should thrive with Williams, knocks them down from “potential to push for .500 if they sign Andrei Kirilenko” to “super-depressing lottery team who will spend the entire season worrying about losing Williams in free agency.” It’s hard to imagine a worse offseason, at least so far. The Nets reportedly chased Nene and Tyson Chandler in free agency, hoping to simultaneously please Williams by upgrading the current roster and land another potential Howard trade chip. They have instead used their cap room on Kris Humphries, Shelden Williams, DeShawn Stevenson and Shawne Williams, all while paying Travis Outlaw $16 million to go away via the one-time-only amnesty provision. Now Lopez is hurt. Their starting center today is Johan Petro, an offensive non-entity who struggles with positioning on defense and fouls more often, per minute, than almost anyone in the league. On opening night, the Nets may well start Williams-Humphries-Petro-Anthony Morrow-Damion James, and I’m sorry, but that’s not really an NBA-quality starting lineup.

    The good news, if there is any, is that New Jersey still has about $9.5 million in cap room through which it could either sign Kirilenko or strike a lopsided trade (in salary terms) for a legit center. John Schuhmann of NBA.com has already suggested a theoretical Jordan Farmar/Chris Kaman swap, which works under the cap and would probably also involve the Nets sending a pick to the Hornets. Of course, the Nets are hoarding those picks in pursuit of Howard, and using cap space on a big such as Kaman would knock them out of the running for Kirilenko. Such are the ripple effects of something like this.

    We’ll see how those ripple effects play out over the next few months. It’s going to be easy to mock the Nets and presume them out of the Howard derby, but we first have to see how Lopez recovers, what the Magic think of him as a player and whether any other teams emerge as realistic suitors.


  • Published On 3:11pm, Dec 22, 2011
  • Potential Dwight Howard deal lacking for Magic

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    A proposed multiteam deal would send Dwight Howard to the Nets and Brook Lopez to Orlando. (AP)

    Yahoo! Sports, ESPN.com and SI.com’s Sam Amick reported that the Nets, desperate to keep Deron Williams as he approaches free agency, are trying to build a three- or four-team deal for Orlando’s Dwight Howard.

    The endless obsession over the Chris Paul trade has obscured this: Howard is a better, younger, healthier player than the Hornets’ point guard — a big man who changes the game on defense like no one else in the NBA, creates a playoff team on his own and stands as the league’s second-greatest talent. This is the sort of player for whom you trade your 22-year-old future All-Star if you have even a hint of confidence that Howard will stick around long-term. He’s that good.

    The Nets, on their own, can offer center Brook Lopez, a signed-and-traded Kris Humphries and multiple first-round picks — their 2012 pick, a lottery-protected pick they received from Houston last summer and others starting in 2014. They could also wait to try to sign Howard as a free agent in 2012, but that brings up complicated timing issues and risks the possibility that the Lakers — reportedly re-engaged in the Paul talks — swoop in on Howard.

    Read More…


  • Published On 1:16pm, Dec 14, 2011
  • Would the Nets go big in free agency?

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    Whenever the lockout ends, the Nets are reportedly looking to acquire either Nene (above) or Tyson Chandler in free agency. (Jim O'Connor/US PRESSWIRE)

    Al Iannazzone of the Bergen Record floated an interesting possibility this week: What if the Nets, who are certain to be flush with cap room even if they don’t cut ties with Travis Outlaw via an amnesty clause, chased a center such as Nene or Tyson Chandler in free agency?

    The Nets are in a fascinating position. They’d like point guard Deron Williams to stay beyond next season, so it would make sense for them to upgrade their roster now so that Williams doesn’t suffer through a miserable losing season. At the same time, they have to preserve cap space for next summer so that they can strike in a star-studded free-agent class in the event they cannot acquire a member of that class via trade during the season. What’s more: The three stars of that free-agent class either play for the Nets (Williams) or play the same position as New Jersey’s two alleged cornerstones in Williams and center Brook Lopez (Chris Paul and Dwight Howard).

    Toss in possible limitations on Bird Rights and rules that would make it more difficult to swing in-season trades for impending free agents and I’m not sure any team, save perhaps the Nuggets and Hornets,  faces more variability over the next 12 months than the Nets. Oh, and they’re also moving to Brooklyn.

    Back to the initial report: Iannazzone reports the Nets will make Chandler or Nene their primary free-agent target. That would go against conventional wisdom — or at least July’s conventional wisdom — which said the Nets would look for a traditional power forward like David West to complement the Lopez/Williams duo. New Jersey’s incumbent power forward, Kris Humphries, is a free agent, and while he put up very nice numbers on a very bad team last season, he is almost 27 and has started 52 games in seven NBA seasons. The evidence we have suggests Humphries is not a starting power forward on an elite club.

    Read More…


  • Published On 3:10pm, Oct 07, 2011
  • Nets’ Williams taking his talents to Turkey?

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    Deron Williams reportedly plans to head to Turkey if the NBA lockout continues. (Chris Szagola/Cal Sport Media)

    Deron Williams has reportedly either signed with Turkish club Besiktas (the same club for which Allen Iverson briefly played) or is at least in talks to sign with the team. If the reports, which ESPN.com’s Marc Stein confirmed on Twitter Thursday morning, pan out, this would be a ground-breaking move by a star still under contract to an NBA team, and one that would raise all sorts of thorny legal issues. Early news indicates that if Williams does sign with Besiktas, his contract will have an out clause allowing him to return to the NBA when the lockout ends. Not all players have been able to negotiate such clauses. 

    AMICK: Besiktas coach Ataman discusses deal

    Williams is due $16.4 million from the Nets next season and has a player option for $17.7 million in 2011-12, so he is clearly not a free agent right now. Free agents – both veterans and rookies – are in a totally different category when it comes to the possibility of playing abroad, since they are not under NBA contracts and thus do not require a waiver from FIBA, the governing body of international basketball, to play wherever they want. If Andrei Kirilenko wants to play in Spain, he can do so without any consequences or worries. This is not so for Williams or the few under-contract NBA guys who have made noise about playing in Europe during a lockout — Dirk Nowitzki, Danilo Gallinari, Serge Ibaka and a few others. 

    Such players need a special approval from FIBA to sign in Europe, and as Stein reported a few months ago, FIBA has generally been very reluctant to grant approval to players under valid NBA contracts. The next fight, of course, could come over whether NBA contracts are actually valid during a lockout. Stein and others have reported that the players’ union might argue on a player’s behalf that such contracts are invalid. (Note: Scott Howard-Cooper wrote an outstanding piece on this same issue at NBA.com, but it is now gone, just like every other NBA.com story that mentions current players.) 

    Read More…


  • Published On 12:19pm, Jul 07, 2011
  • Nets’ pursuit of Howard includes many ‘ifs’

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    According to a recent report, the Nets plan to go hard after 2012 free agent Dwight Howard. (Bill Frakes/SI)

    The Nets would be stupid if they didn’t want Dwight Howard, but it’s still valuable to learn that they’re all-in for a run at Howard, according to ESPN.com. Orlando’s franchise building block can become a free agent after next season, and he has already gone on record saying he intends to test the market rather than sign an extension with the Magic before hitting free agency. 

    Yes, the Nets have Brook Lopez, a nice 7-footer who is more than two years younger than Howard, has logged nearly 12,000 fewer regular-season minutes and averaged 20 points per game last season. But Lopez isn’t in Howard’s league as a two-way player, and you’d happily part with him — even as a simple free-agent departure — if it means acquiring the guy who might be the second-best all-around player in the league. And the Nets would seem a logical destination, with a theoretical combination of Deron Williams, Brooklyn and plenty of cap space after next season.

    If we optimistically assume Williams picks up his $17.79 million option for 2012-13, New Jersey is set to have about $37.5 million in guaranteed salary for that season committed to six players – Williams, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro, Travis Outlaw, Jordan Farmar and Marshon Brooks. That would place New Jersey more than $20 million under the current cap level, but it does not include several other potential expenditures, including: cap holds linked to outgoing free agents such as Lopez, whose rookie deal expires after next season; money for players the Nets select in next year’s draft; minimum-level charges for empty roster spots if the team has fewer than 12 players under contract at the start of free agency; and any money the Nets pay free agents they sign this summer, a pool that could include someone like David West or Kris Humphries. 

    Read More…


  • Published On 2:46pm, Jul 05, 2011


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