NBA Saturday: Williams Won’t Commit to Nets
Deron Williams hasn’t had to answer a question about his future in New Jersey for quite some time. The ongoing NBA lockout has silenced free agency talk for the most part and his decision to play in Turkey has stolen the spotlight and distanced him from the tough questions and rampant speculation that other superstars have faced as they entered the final year of their contract.
However, Williams chose to discuss his uncertain future in a blog post on his website.
“I don’t have a place in New Jersey yet,” Williams wrote yesterday. “I don’t want to buy anywhere, just planning to rent for now. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do after the NBA season. We’ll see…”
Around this time last year, Carmelo Anthony was the center of attention in the NBA once it became clear that his days with the Denver Nuggets were numbered. The drama surrounding Anthony dragged on and on, and the first half of the season was spent dissecting his quotes and monitoring trade rumors.
If the lockout hadn’t delayed the start of this season, we’d likely be having a similar discussion regarding the futures of Williams, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul. The three superstars will become free agents in 2012, and they’ve all made it clear that they’re keeping their options open.
The New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic and New Orleans Hornets will have tough decisions to make when a new collective bargaining agreement is ratified. The new deal may include provisions that make it easier for teams to re-sign their best players, but they’ll still have to appease their stars by surrounding them with talent, which could be difficult if the new system is restrictive.
At the end of the day, the big question for each team is will they trade their noncommittal star or risk losing him for nothing in free agency? The Denver Nuggets are in a much better place than the Cleveland Cavaliers entering this season because they took the trade route rather than testing their luck in July.
Williams’ situation may be the most interesting for several reasons.
The Nets took a gamble when they acquired him from the Utah Jazz at last year’s trade deadline. They traded away Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two first-round picks without any idea whether or not he’ll re-sign, which was one of the main holdups during New Jersey’s negotiations with Denver.
The team’s move to Brooklyn and ability to sign another free agent alongside Williams also means the Nets have more options than the Magic or Hornets. Orlando traded themselves into a corner and has a $74,816,623 payroll this season. New Orleans has $42,066,057 committed to six players this year.
Whenever the lockout comes to an end and things like BRI are no longer interesting, the league’s focus will shift to the drama surrounding these three stars.
NBA, NBPA Resume Talks Today: The NBA and Players Association will meet in New York this afternoon. This is the first meeting between the two sides since the talks hit a roadblock last Friday, when neither side would budge on the split of basketball-related income. The owners latest offer was 50 percent, but the players were “not willing to go a penny below 52,” according to David Stern.
Now, after meeting separately, the two sides are ready to return to the negotiating table. They’ll have help from federal mediator George Cohen today, who was invited back to the talks after participating in three days of meetings last month. If his last round of mediating was any indication, today’s meeting will probably be lengthy.
Last time the NBA and NBPA met with Cohen, the system issues were still unresolved and took up the majority of time. Now, with many tentative system agreements in place, Cohen can preside over the BRI discussion and try to help the two sides even the gap.
Today’s talks are being described as make or break because they’ll likely dictate whether or not there will be an agreement in the near future. If progress is made, the talks will continue and a deal will be agreed upon. If the two sides have another setback, the players will seriously consider decertification.
Earlier this week, a large group of players held at least two conference calls discussing their options going forward. One of the most discussed back-up plans on the call was decertification, with stars such as Paul Pierce, Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade reportedly leading the push. Blake Griffin, Jason Kidd, Al Horford, Tyson Chandler, Spencer Hawes, DeAndre Jordan, Russell Westbrook, Grant Hill, James Posey and J.J. Redick were among the players on the call, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.
Some sources say that it’s too late in the game for the players to dissolve the union, while others say that this is the only leverage that the players have. Whether or not the threat of decertification will help or hinder today’s negotiations remains to be seen.
The owners have a threat of their own entering today’s meeting: A growing group of owners want to flip the script and offer a 53-47 split in their favor and a hard cap. Michael Jordan is reportedly among the owners leading this charge and he has 10-14 owners backing him up.
Decertification or a significantly worse deal: which threat is scarier? We may find out today.
News and Notes: Here are some news and notes from around the league.
• Dwight Howard’s charity game at the University of Central Florida is coming together nicely. The game, which will be played on November 13, will feature many past and present Orlando Magic players such as Vince Carter, Penny Hardaway, Steve Francis, Rashard Lewis, Trevor Ariza, Mike Miller, Drew Gooden, Gilbert Arenas, Carlos Arroyo, Matt Barnes, Brandon Bass, Earl Clark, Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, DeShawn Stevenson, Ryan Anderson, Quentin Richardson, Chris Duhon and Daniel Orton. Shaquille O’Neal and Grant Hill will also be in attendance, but may not play. Lil Wayne is expected to coach one of the teams.
• Rudy Gay is organizing a charity game as well. It’ll be played at the Desoto Civic Center in Memphis on November 8. Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, John Wall, Josh Smith, Corey Maggette, Kyle Lowry, Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo, Nate Robinson, Sebastian Telfair and Penny Hardaway are among the players expected to play.
• The Atlanta Hawks and Alex Meruelo have mutually decided to terminate their agreement effective immediately, according to Atlanta Hawks owner, Bruce Levenson.”The Atlanta Hawks are no longer for sale,” he added. “We’re excited to remain as owners of the Hawks and are committed to building on our string of four straight playoff appearances.”
HOOPSWORLD Chats: There are two chats on today’s schedule. Susan Bible’s weekly chat will get underway at 11 p.m. ET. I’ll be holding my weekly chat 1 p.m. ET. Make sure to submit your questions early because these chats fill up fast. To view HOOPSWORLD”s upcoming chat schedule, click here.