This bit of breaking news is bad news for the New Jersey Nets.
The Nets gambled on making Deron Williams the centerpiece of their franchise when they sent Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first-round draft picks and cash to Utah for him in February. It was a bold move that needed one huge follow up, convincing him to stay, to really be successful.
This isn’t to say Williams won’t eventually sign an extension with the Nets. That’s still possible. But the pressure is now squarely on the New Jersey Nets to make the necessary moves to convince him to do so. What makes that a lot more difficult is Williams is the selling point to any free agents or trade targets. They needed to be able to say “hey, you’ll be playing with D-Will… one of the best in the game. Think of how he’ll help your numbers.”
This news changes the pitch a little. Now the Nets will be looking at guys and saying “I know what Williams said, but you can make sure he stays here.” That’s a little unsettling. Maybe too unsettling for potential future Nets.
There is, of course, another scenario in play here. The Nets have a ton of cap space this season and they’ll have more next year. They COULD start shopping Williams and use him as a way to get some decent complimentary pieces that will attract a star free agent or two. If they now feel that he’ll opt out and walk, they could try to get something for him.
It’s not an appetizing scenario. The pressure on the Nets to make some moves has just increased exponentially. They can’t walk into Brooklyn as a rebuilding team. They need to be relevant. And to be relevant, they really need a superstar player or two. If it’s not Williams and his plus-one, then someone else has to fill that seat.