NBA PM: King Confident D-Will Returns to Nets
New Jersey Nets fans have been dwindling in numbers ever since Jason Kidd was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks. The team’s dismal play over the last four years coupled with its upcoming move to Brooklyn seemed to zap whatever remained of the fan base.
The loyalists that hung around dreamed of Carmelo Anthony last season and now, this year, they were praying for a deadline acquisition of Dwight Howard.
As everyone knows by now, that didn’t happen. But instead of trading Deron Williams—as most people predicted they would after Howard decided to stay in Orlando for another season—the Nets front office doubled down on the team they have, trading expiring contracts—and a top-three protected first-round pick—in exchange for Blazers forward Gerald Wallace. The thinking, league sources told HOOPSWORLD, was that Williams’ fate wasn’t tied to Howard, but to the team’s chances of being competitive.
Now, one day after the deadline, Williams seemed unshaken by Thursday’s events. Like Howard, he had the option of opting back in for the final year of his contract, but (as Bill Ingram mentioned in the NBA@2) Williams told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that he won’t be following suit.
“I’m not going to opt-in. It’s not monkey-see, monkey-do,” Williams said. “Wherever I go is hopefully where I’m going to retire.”
As Bondy pointed out, Williams can sign a five-year deal with the Nets or go elsewhere for four years.
Williams has publically stated his love for living in Lower Manhattan, and while everyone assumes he’s going to sign with his hometown Dallas Mavericks this summer, the Nets captain continues to get endorsement deals based, at least partially, on his chances of playing in Brooklyn next year. (Remember, Brooklyn has almost three million people, which would make it the nation’s fourth-largest city if it weren’t a borough).
“It’s been a lot different than Utah, that’s for sure,” Williams said on Wednesday. “It’s definitely a bigger market, better market, able to reach a lot more people… You know, a lot of the companies that I’m dealing with are really excited about, you know, the move to Brooklyn. It really excites them.
“I just think the market’s going to be great,” he continued. “They see the buzz around the new arena. The fans are excited about coming to the borough. I think everybody is trying to get a head start on that.”
Does that sound like a guy who’s eager to opt out of his contract?
Furthermore, general manager Billy King seemed downright giddy on Friday in an interview with WFAN.
King insisted that the trade for Wallace was about making this team competitive as soon as possible. King went on to say that he doesn’t mind giving up a potential lottery pick to Portland because Nets guard MarShon Brooks was taken 25th overall in last year’s draft and now he’s the second-leading rookie scorer in the NBA. Furthermore, King pointed out that when the Nets last picked in the top three, they took Derrick Favors, who is still trying to find his way in Utah.
While King said he won’t ask Williams to opt in for next season (“Why would I ask him to take a on-year deal when he can get a five-year deal and get security for his family?”) he did say his confidence is “very high” that Williams will return to the Nets.
That could just be one of those things that GMs say, but the fact that King acquired Wallace shows that this wasn’t just lip service.
Magic Executive Pat Williams Addresses Dwight Howard Saga
Unlike 16 years ago when the Orlando Magic sat and helplessly watched Shaquille O’Neal leave for the Los Angeles Lakers, Magic executive Pat Williams was able to help convince his star to stay in Central Florida this time. Williams spoke to 790 AM the Zone in Atlanta on Friday and Sportsradiointerviews.com had the transcription.
What stuck out about Williams’ interview was the credit he placed on recent wins over the Bulls and HEAT. Had the Magic not beaten the Eastern Conference’s top two teams, Williams said, it might not have been so easy to get Howard to buy into Orlando for another season.
“I think he has made it clear that he wants to win, he wants championships, and what player doesn’t, but the win on the road in Chicago was huge and then we came back and beat Miami in overtime and I think Dwight suddenly thought ‘those are the two best teams in the East and we beat them and we’re good,” Williams said. “We can probably do a lot better than maybe everyone has been thinking particularly if I really am committed here and plant my roots and we get all this side stuff off our platter.’ It will be interesting that we play at home tonight and this will be the first game without all the rumors and all the rumblings and it will be interesting to see what kind of attitude and make-up we have tonight.”
Williams was also asked if the Magic would have dealt Howard had he not agreed to stay for another year. And why not? Williams remembers losing O’Neal for nothing, and anything is better than that.
“Probably,” Williams said. “ I guess we will never really know the answer to that but Otis Smith was working on as many deals as he could. The specter of Shaq of 16 years ago hangs over this city and I think the feeling was if he’s going to walk and we get nothing, we just can’t afford to do that.”
There had been several reports that the Magic gave Howard a voice in coaching decisions—something some believe would mean the end of Stan Van Gundy in Orlando—but Williams says that’s not true.
“Vehemently denied by our organization,” Williams said. “No truth to that at all. We would never cede that kind of power to a player and I can’t imagine a player even wanting it. That would be a real mess for him.”
It’s definitely an interesting interview with a guy who has seen it all. You can listen to it here.
What Did We Learn About the 2012 NBA Draft
The New Jersey Nets traded a lottery pick (top-three protected) for a 29-year-old veteran. The Washington Wizards acquired a 29-year-old center when there was a good chance they would have been able to draft Connecticut big man Andre Drummond with their top pick this June.
Conventional wisdom has it that this is a good draft class, but NBA executives weren’t treating at as such at the trade deadline. ESPN’s Chad Ford tweeted that the Nets are only interested in three players (Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Thomas Robinson) only moments after hitting the nail on the head by giving some NCAA tournament stats, “Memo to everyone still gushing about this draft: Andre Drummond 2 pts, 3 reb & Perry Jones 2 pts on 1-6 shooting today. Both Top 10 players.”
Maybe this isn’t the draft we all hoped it would be. Drummond has looked good at times, and UNC’s Harrison Barnes can play NBA-level defense right now, but outside of the likely top three picks (Davis, Gilchrist and Robinson), it’s hard to find a player to fall in love with. That’s not to say Baylor’s Jones, Carolina’s John Henson and Tyler Zeller or Kentucky’s Terrence Jones won’t be good players. It just shows that some executives aren’t willing to invest heavily in this draft, even if they work for lottery-bound teams.
Rockets to Buy Out Derek Fisher
The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the Rockets plan on buying out the remainder of Derek Fisher’s contract. Fisher won’t be allowed to sign with the Lakers until July, per the new collective bargaining agreement.
Fisher was acquired for Jordan Hill. The Lakers also sent a first-round pick to the Rockets.
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