We've tried so hard to control ourselves since Wednesday, not from exploding with joy, but from exploding with anger when reading and listening to the punditry about how the Nets couldn't possibly re-sign a player gifted to them at the deadline. Avery Johnson said it, "Don't muddy our waters, our celebration."
So screw 'em all! After an extra dose of blood pressure medicine, we decided to write something and here it is...
We've been staring at our computer, pecking at our blackberry, scrolling on our iPad the last few days trying to figure out why so many of the pundits think Deron Williams will never make it to Brooklyn. Chad Ford thinks he will be a great complement to Blake Griffin in L.A. Every Knick fan and most of their writers (aka the Knickettes) believe it will be great to have Williams in the metro area since he won't have to move when he signs with the Knicks! Chris Sheridan wrote in a chat that the Nets had overpaid because of the possibility Williams would bolt. Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com called the Nets were the "trade deadline loser" because there was no way he would re-sign.
Virtually every story breathlessly reported that Williams told writers he wouldn't commit to the Nets. First of all, he couldn't. Negotiations between free agents and teams are prohibited until July 1. But gee, it would have been nice if he had said it was a possibility, maybe even a strong possibility, that he would stay. Probably too much to ask for...right?
Oh wait, he did say exactly that.
Here's his full quote from the press conference at the PNY Center Thursday: "I can’t really give any assurances, or say that I’ll be here [because] 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 CBA, the type of moves we make and the people we bring into this organization." (Emphasis un-apologetically added)
Missed that, I'll bet. Why? Because most of the sports writers decided to ignore it and/or focus on the enormous risk of giving away Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, two picks (one protected) and $3 million of Mikhail Prokhorov's cash hoard for arguably the best point guard in the game. Funny, we didn't see that much last July about how the Knicks were the only team offering Amare Stoudemire five years and $100 million despite three knee surgeries and a retinal surgery. Nothing much again when Donnie Walsh hinted the Knicks hadn't been able to get insurance on those knees, those eyes. Risk much? Only the franchise.
Williams also told the press conference he was "excited" and said he would take an active role in recruiting free agents. What else do people want? And he said all this before Prokhorov interrupted his heli-skiing vacation in British Columbia to fly to San Antonio just to say hi and watch his debut. We assume "The Most Interesting Man in the World" told Williams a variation of what he told Darren Rovell last weekend, "Any superstar player from our roster, or what can be traded (for), he will be the king of the world. The first really global basketball player." Trust us, he means it. There was not hint of a smile on his face. After all, he has invested a half billion dollars in the franchise.
Not everyone in the sports media bought into the conventional wisdom. Art Stapleton of the Record first drew our attention to the full quote in his column. John Schuhmann wrote a well-reasoned piece for NBA.com which asked "A better alternative would have been to ... what? Keep waiting?"
Bill Simmons imagined what Billy King might have said when his counterpart, Kevin O'Connor, agreed to the deal: "Really, you're giving us a top-three point guard for a lottery pick that hasn't done anything, a point guard who peaked two years ago and a couple of other picks? Done! Can we call it in right now? Let's call it in. No, we'll call it in! We got this! We're dialing right now…"
And Fred Kerber did some math for those Knick fans who are ordering up Williams jerseys in orange and blue.
"The Nets may find an enormous ally in a new collective bargaining agreement. After next season, when he will make $16.35 million, Williams can opt out of his final year, (2012-13) when he is due for $17.77 million. It can be Carmelo Anthony all over again...But a new CBA, with owners and the league seeking greater fiscal restraints and lesser contract lengths, could make $17 million irresistible. The current CBA expires June 30 and Williams can sign an extension July 18." He could have also written the new CBA will make it virtually impossible for the Knicks to sign him.
Indeed, beyond being the King of the World, as Prokhorov calls it, there are other benefits to succeeding in "the concrete jungle where dreams are made of"...to borrow a particularly apt phrase from another member of the Nets' ownership. He will be the face of the franchise in a brand-new "billion dollar arena" in the biggest sports market in the world. Don't think that means much to someone who was last seen as the franchise player in the smallest market in the NBA? Think again. It can change basketball's perception of you.
Back in 2002, when Gary Sussman was escorting Jason Kidd to a Sports Illustrated cover shoot in Manhattan, he asked Kidd when was the last time he had received such media attention. Kidd, always economical with words, replied, "Never". It mattered then, it matters now.
Enough, we guess. The blood pressure medicine is wearing off as patience wears thin. Let's simply end it this way: See you at the game!