Wild times for Nets, Jordan Williams
The final stretch of the New Jersey Nets season is underway (they’re not making the playoffs, even though they’ve said it’s a goal) and it’s time to look ahead after the team hit yet another bumpy trade deadline road.
After missing out on Carmelo Anthony at the 2011 trade deadline and settling for Deron Williams (in retrospect, a better deal for the team), the Nets found themselves in another highly publicized romance period with Dwight Howard. The rumors of Howard wanting to team with Williams in either Brooklyn with the Nets or in Dallas, Williams’ home area, went on for months, and at one point, Howard’s “people” even said the Nets were his choice of destination.
As written here and discussed on the Litchfield County Sports Show, it only made sense for Orlando to hold on to Howard. If the Magic kept Howard, under the league’s new CBA, he would have left nearly $25 million on the table to sign elsewhere. Not happening. While Howard signing the one-year extension at this time is a surprise, it will be more surprising if he doesn’t ink the max deal after next summer. No one leaves that amount of money on the table.
It’s one thing for LeBron and friends to leave a total of $6 million on the table over the course of six years, but $25 million? Come on.
Playing hardball was the only strategy for the Magic and it worked. Trading him for Brook Lopez and other marginal pieces because you were scared he’d leave as a free agent would’ve set the franchise back years. Now they’re in play for other free agents and will be an Eastern Conference contender for the forseeable future.
The Nets, meanwhile, are in a tough spot. Williams will be a free agent and you can see the mounting of losses is beginning to wear on him.
Like Howard, Williams will have to take significantly less to leave. That leaves two options: Williams stays or tries to force his hand with a sign-and-trade deal, probably to Dallas.
I see Williams taking the latter route, but if I’m the Nets, I don’t budge. If he is willing to take $25 million less, fine, take the cap space. Trading him for bit parts that will not result in a championship is just reckless.
Regarding Torrington’s Jordan Williams, his future will be more clear over the next month. Williams played well after returning from the D-League, but then found himself out of the rotation behind higher paid veterans Johan Petro and Shelden Williams.
Since the trade deadline has passed, Williams has seen a little more playing time, including 21 minutes on Friday in a loss to Orlando in which he recorded 10 points, six rebounds and two steals.
It appears the Nets have an eye towards next season with Williams, who is under contract for another year. This year has been a roller-coaster for him with the decision to leave Maryland early, the lockout, cancellation of the Las Vegas Summer League, a brief stint in Poland, physical issues in training camp and adjusting to the daily grind of NBA life.
Needless to say, with the summer league back this year and the crazy experience he gained, the Nets should see a better Williams on the floor next season.
Off the floor, the Nets, usually buried in coverage amongst the New York area teams, will continue to be a compelling story.