ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 30: Deron Williams #8 of the New Jersey Nets reacts during their 105-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 30, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
A lot of pundits think that unless the Nets get Dwight Howard, their chances of keeping Deron Williams are between slim and none, with one "Dwightmare" scenario having them unite not in Brooklyn, but in Dallas. In fact, Mark Cuban seems to be planning on that. But Williams has said nothing to suggest he's gone without Howard. He's only said he wants to win.
Lost in daily "Dwightmare" speculation is Williams' string of positive comments about the city, the organization, the owner, the coach, the GM, matched by Nets' officials quotes about him. In a Nets Magazine program on YES and in articles by Colin Stephenson in The Star-Ledger and Jonathan Abrams in Grantland, there were telling quotes from Williams, Avery Johnson and Billy King about how D-Will is included in virtually every aspect of basketball operations, from practice ideas to free agency ... perhaps more than any other NBA superstar.
From the Star-Ledger:
"He comes to my office here and there before practice," Johnson said. "I might ask him about a practice idea — time frames. That’s what I did when I played for (San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg) Popovich and I’ve seen it happen with other teams."
Williams, who jokes with reporters that he is a "GM in training," said in a recent interview that despite being the star player for the Jazz for five-plus seasons, he never had this kind of influence in the Utah organization.
"It would have been nice," he said. "But you know, it’s (two) different organizations (that have) a different way of doing things. You’ve got to respect that."
Deron Williams walks in with Bobby Marks, the assistant general manager. Williams, who often eats his lunch in King's office, carries a tray of a sandwich and chips. Williams and King are building a tight bond that will be crucial to retaining him. Williams often says that he will stay and headline the team's move to Brooklyn, as long as the team is capably built. He eschewed signing the contract extension offered to him in recent weeks. The most he could sign for now is an added two years and about $39 million. If he stays and signs with the Nets, his deal could be for five years and around $100 million. Before he signs, the roster needs major reconstructing, and Williams and King often discuss moves during their lunch.
"This is my lunch spot," Williams announces.
"I've got to get him an office, get him a phone, get him an assistant," King says.
"I've been waiting for my sign," Williams says with a laugh.
"That is my work station," Williams motions to the couch where Sussman sits. "That's the most comfortable couch. You should try laying down. I work from a laying-down position because the blood flows to the brain and you can think better. They did a study. You think better laying down. It's true. Try it."
From Nets Magazine:
King on Williams: He and I talk about it together. "Let's not sign guys that are going to cripple us going forward". He's competitive. he's the leader of the team, the franchise guy, but also a guy who doesn't want to take 20, 25 shots, so it's up to me to add some more guys who can take some the load off of him.
It's an era where superstars want influence commensurate with their status as franchise players. Not every organization is willing to go along. Utah wasn't and Orlando isn't. The Nets are. In particular, Williams saw during free agency what goes on during the process, being consulted every step of the way, say league sources.
It's a deliberate strategy, one that Mikhail Prokhorov not only endorses, but pushes. Remember it was Prokhorov who just after hiring King, wrote a letter to the editor of USA Today, congratulating LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for deciding among themselves to create a superteam in Miami. It's also a strategy they hope Williams can use in his recruiting of other players, like Howard.