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What was originally viewed as a great deal for Nets fans could ironically become their worst nightmare by season’s end. Deron Williams, acquired last year in a deal with the Jazz, stated Thursday that he will not sign an extension with New Jersey and will go elsewhere following this year according to ESPN. Williams has a player option at the end of 2012 that he will reportedly exercise.
New Jersey traded for Williams in 2011 in exchange for rookie forward Derrick Favors, point guard Devin Harris and their upcoming first round draft pick. The rest of the league did not see it coming, but as one of the league’s elite point guards they depended on him to be the first major piece in hopefully a new era of winning.
However, it was certainly viewed around the league as a risky move by new owner Mikhail Prokhorov and general manager Billy King, knowing that Williams could walk away without even playing two full seasons with the club. And if he were to do so the team would suffer a major setback.
The Nets have been painfully irrelevant the last few years, as most NBA fans can recall following a 12-70 season just two years ago. They’ve appeared even worse to fans in the northeast recently due to the Knicks recent success.
New York has become an elite contender since acquiring Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, and New Jersey’s front office hoped to achieve the same by trading for Williams with their move to Brooklyn less than a calendar year away.
The Nets made the move despite awareness of potentially jeopardizing their future. Derrick Favors was not performing like the lottery pick that he was, averaging only 6.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in 56 games with the team. But giving up on a rookie who could still grow for a player who controls his own future is a transaction most teams wouldn’t have made. They also gave Utah what turned out to be the number three pick in the draft.
Meanwhile, Harris posted solid numbers for a starting point guard, averaging 15 points and nearly eight assists per game for New Jersey last year. The acquisition of Williams will be detrimental to the team’s development if he really does leave, but many believe that it could also just be his way of forcing the team to make a more aggressive push at potential free agents such as Dwight Howard.
Howard will be on the open market this summer and the popular sentiment is that the Magic will be unable to retain him. Most are going with the notion that he will sign with a team in a big market to join other superstars in a similar fashion to the great players that went to the Heat and Knicks.
The Magic would be forced to trade Howard in order to avoid being left empty-handed. Recent rumors discuss a deal between they and the Nets that would involve Brook Lopez and draft picks. A deal like that could produce a powerful Eastern Conference contender for years to come.
Williams knows this and would love to team up with a force like Howard. It is possible that he could already be discussing his future so the Nets won’t waste any time in pursuit of players like him. New Jersey knows that the likelihood of him re-signing would almost be a given if they make a huge splash within the upcoming months.
For Nets fans acquiring Deron Williams has gone from a sign of hope to potentially many more years of misery. But no matter what happens they will certainly undergo some sort of emotional extreme once a decision is finally made.