Boy! What a difference three years makes! After signing a five-year, $98 million dollar max deal back in 2012, Deron Williams gets bought out at $27.5 million dollars out of the $43 million dollars remaining on his albatross… I mean contract.
What makes this picture even worse is that the Brooklyn Nets got an overweight, out of shape, oft injured point guard that found a way to alienate himself from an entire organization for their money.
It doesn’t get better, folks.
Now, Williams is gone from an organization that was going to have to bring him off the bench (If Brooklyn was smart) to the team that he almost left for in the first place in the Dallas Mavericks who has a starting spot waiting for him. Oh by the way, there’s a two-year $10 million dollar contract that will serve as the cherry on top.
Talk about a new lease on life if you are Deron Williams. He leaves one organization who had his bags packed at the airport for a franchise who think he’s a Hall of Famer compared to Rajon Rondo.
Sure, Deron Williams was supposed to be the east coast version of Chris Paul. Sure, the Nets was supposed to be getting one of the top two of three-point guards in the NBA. This was supposed to be start of a major push for owner, Mikhail Prokhorov’s to buy a championship in five years so he could stay a bachelor.
There are women all over Russia thanking Deron Williams right now.
MAESTRO! Cue the organ for wedding music!
But seriously folks. If you are a Brooklyn Nets fan, I get it. Deron Williams will look like the biggest fraud in Nets franchise history. (Remember, Benoit Benjamin played for the Nets too!) Deron Williams might be the laziest star player in Nets history. (Umm, Derrick Coleman anyone?) But let’s all look at the bright side of this scenario. Deron Williams and his humongous contract was not paid off in vain.
So this is for Joe Johnson, who put the team (I now believe Williams) on blast for selfish play at the beginning of the season…
“It’s just kind of what it is. Defensively, we help from time to time, offensively, I just think guys kind of exhaust their options and then when there’s nothing else for them, then they’ll pass it when they have to. For the most part, we’ve been very selfish.”
For Paul Pierce who basically smacked Deron Williams upside the head to ESPNBoston.com’s Jackie MacMullan before the playoffs…
“Before I got there, I looked at Deron Williams as an MVP candidate,” Pierce said. “But I felt once we got there, that’s not what he wanted to be. He just didn’t want that. I think a lot of the pressure got to him sometimes. This was the his first time in the national spotlight. The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.”
Okay Pierce might have been right. Outside of one game in the first round series loss against the Atlanta Hawks, he ran the point so badly, I bet Billy King was looking for Kenny Anderson for help.
Which leads us to Lionel Hollins, who was reportedly in a situation where he and Williams had to be separated last season during an argument by The New York Daily News to sum up Williams’ play like this…
“not a franchise player anymore.”
Well I’m going to tell you fans a fact that you, these guys and especially Mr. Prokhorov ($27.5 million dollars is still a lot of money!) needs to hear…
The contract was necessary… all of it. You wouldn’t be in Brooklyn without Deron Williams signing it. You can thank him every time you walk into the Barclays Center and look at the season ticket holders.
If you remember, the Nets (then in New Jersey) mortgaged their future trading Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, the start of the exodus of first round picks in 2011 and 2013 and cash. At the time, Deron Williams was not a guaranteed lock to resign.
They needed Williams to stay to make the move to Brooklyn easier. Everyone remembers the pre-Jason Kidd and post-Jason Kidd eras in New Jersey. They stunk and the move to Brooklyn made basketball and financial sense. “The curse of Dr. J” was a way of life in the Garden State.
No business works with some marketing power. Remember Jay-Z and his so-called ownership? The way it was played up, he had an office next to Mr. Prokhorov. He had billboards all over Brooklyn. In reality, he owned less than one percent. If Deron Williams had left and went to Dallas in 2012, by a show of hands, who would have spent money on those expensive tickets just to look at Beyoncé not sing for a couple of hours? Okay, besides me?
How about that new arena right smack in the middle of Brooklyn? There was a “Develop, Don’t Destroy Brooklyn” movement that could have easily turned fans off. They had to get on board as well. The New Jersey squad that did not make the playoffs the year before was not the greatest selling point for a city council to use.
You have to have a player to get behind. At the time, it was Deron Williams.
So the Nets had to get some quality players to show Williams that they were committed to winning. So the Nets traded for Joe Johnson and took on his contract which at that time was the worst in the NBA. Now the Nets had the highest paid backcourt in the NBA at the time.
Then the next summer, Brooklyn went out and got Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in a draft night trade that sent so many first round picks out, fans will forget the meaning of the lottery. Then Paul Pierce was not re-signed and went to Washington. Garnett was traded at the deadline to Minnesota.
All of this wheeling and dealing has amounted to one playoff series win and one player left in Joe Johnson. That and millions of dollars shelled out in salary cap penalties.
Does this change your mind about Deron Williams and his contract? It should. Granted all of the people mentioned above have issues with Williams. The fans will boo Deron Williams out of the Barclays Center when he returns. But his signature on an over bloated maxed out contract started it all and brought the Nets back to some relevancy when they needed it most.