The Nets trade for Deron Williams and almost everyone immediately looks at the negative: that he can opt out of his contract after next season and become a free agent.
Maybe it’s because we live in the metropolitan area and we’re taught to be cynical, but too many tweeters, bloggers, fans and writers are already saying Williams is gone after a year and a half, that he is a 1 ½-year rental.
Maybe it’s true, but let it play out first. That’s what Williams says, what the Nets say, and really what should be done. But in this world where everyone wants up-to-the-minute information and want to be the first to say, we always said he would never stay, just let it play out.
“I’m just looking forward to the opportunity right now,” Williams said at Thursday’s introductory press conference. “I can’t really give any assurances, or say I’ll be here when I don’t know what the future holds. I look forward to the possibility of it - it’s definitely a strong possibility.
“It all depends on how the next year goes, the collective bargaining agreement with the type of moves we make, and people we bring in to this organization.”
Williams is not going to commit now, but that doesn’t mean he won’t next summer or during next season.
It’s on general manager Billy King and coach Avery Johnson to get more good players and keep Williams happy and on owner Mikhail Prokhorov and CEO Brett Yormark to show the superstar point guard how they can make him bigger than he is, make him a household name when they move to Brooklyn.
This could be Jason Kidd all over again. It has the makings of it.
Kidd was a great player in Phoenix and in his prime at 28. Suddenly he became available because of a domestic violence incident. Then team president Rod Thorn stole Kidd from the Suns in 2001, sending Stephon Marbury and bit parts to Phoenix.
Williams was a great player in Utah and in his prime at 26. Suddenly he became available in part because of reported clash with coach Jerry Sloan, who ultimately resigned, and in part because the Jazz didn’t know if they could re-sign him. King made a great deal for Williams, sending Devin Harris, Derrick Favors and two No. 1s.
Kidd had two years left on his deal and no one thought he would stay because he wanted to go to a warm city and play golf.
Williams has a year and a half left and no one thinks he will stay because he could, well, go to the Knicks, or to Orlando to play with Dwight Howard.
Kidd changed the Nets’ franchise around and blew up and became an MVP candidate and a surefire Hall of Famer because of what he did in a major market and in games that people in time zones were able to watch. He stuck around when he could have signed with San Antonio in 2004 because he wanted to try to finish what he started with the Nets.
As great as Williams is, he played in Utah and not everyone saw the Jazz play. He could follow in Kidd’s footsteps and blow up if he turns around this franchise and build his brand in a major market.
“I look forward to turning this thing around and being able to compete for a title,” Williams said.
“I’m excited about being a Net. After talking to Billy, talking to Coach Johnson, and seeing the direction they wanted to go in, the visions they had for this organization, just really got me excited. It got me excited about the possibilities about competing for a championship the next couple years. They’re very ambitious going after a lot of guys out there – I’m going to help as well.”
Kidd and Williams play differently and the rosters totally are different. Kidd is great in the open court and the Nets had Kenyon Martin, Kerry Kittles returning from injury and just traded for Richard Jefferson. They were perfect complements to Kidd.
Williams is a better halfcourt player, and he’s going to have to find ways to make Brook Lopez a star, and get everyone better, and also be a recruiter.
That is an advantage the Nets have now that they have Williams. He can get in players’ ears – Howard comes to mind – and try to bring them to New Jersey and ultimately Brooklyn.
The Nets haven’t had this type of attraction since Kidd was here and all the moves they made were to get closer to a championship. Kidd ultimately lost faith when cost-cutting replaced championship-building and forced a trade in 2008.
The difference now is the Nets have more money, more flexibility than they had throughout the Kidd era and limitless resources in Prokhorov. They’re going to go after all the big names available and could get some with Williams.
“This is about disassembling a team that won 12 games and assembling a team that in the future can compete for a championship,” Johnson said. “Deron is going to be a major part of that.”
Sure there are questions about Williams’ future, but they’re not going to be answered now or today. Let’s see the Nets next move and the one after that and the after that.
“I want to work hard for this organization on and off the court,” Williams said
No one expected Kidd to stick around, but he did for 4 ½ years after everyone else said he would bolt. It’s far too soon to say Williams won’t stay with the Nets longer than you think he will. He just got here. Let it play out.
Follow me on Twitter: @Al_Iannazzone
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)