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REALITY CHECK: Sure, D-Will Could Leave, But It Would Cost Him

New Jersey Nets
New Jersey Nets

Deron Williams, perhaps having seen some "woe is me" comments on this site, tweeted something interesting late Wednesday from Istanbul. When a fan noted that "Maybe your next game in the NBA will be as a Brooklyn Net?", Williams responded "Definitely a possibility!"

There's been a lot of speculation about how D-Will could pick up and leave fair New Jersey (or Brooklyn) and find another place to show off his talents. That's true. However, as this NetsDaily analysis shows, if the owners' last proposal becomes the basis for the new CBA (and the players have agreed with most of it), he will leave a lot of money on the table if he goes somewhere else.

Whether there's a season or not, if the Nets re-sign Williams to a new contract this summer, he will be owed roughly $101 million over five years. But if he opts out of his $17.7 million final year and signs with a new team, he'll get $76 million over four.  That's #25 million.

How so? The owners' final proposal (much of which the players agreed to) permits teams who hold "Bird Rights" on their own players to re-sign them to five-year deals with 6.5% increase. That drops to four years with 3.5% increases for new teams.

And there's more.  Who would have the cap space to take him on?  The list is short, barring dramatic trades.  Here are the candidates with their cap space at the end of this season: the Nuggets with $39 million (but with significant cap holds); the Pacers with $33 million; the Clippers also with $33 million (but with a cap hold for Eric Gordon); the Kings with $32 million; the Hornets with $30 million (and with the only point guard in the NBA who might be better than Williams in Chris Paul); the Celtics with $28 million (and Rajon Rondo); the Suns with $27 million (and Steve Nash); the Hawks with $21 million; Charlotte with $20 million and the Timberwolves with $18 million (all of which would be needed to re-sign Kevin Love).

And what about the Rockets, the Mavericks or the Knicks?  Shouldn't they figure in this mix?  Are they realistic?

Houston has $52 million in salaries. If they didn’t pick the option on six of their rookies they would have around $25 million in cap space. 

Dallas has $44.6 millon in salaries committed for 2012-13. If they amnesty Brendan Haywood or Shawn Marion of course they would have room. But what do you have left?

New York has $40.3 million committed with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. If they didn’t pick up Toney Douglas option and amnesty Renaldo Balkman they would have $15.2 million in cap space. Not enough.

Also, remember all of this cap space does not factor in first round picks for next year

The Nets? The Nets on the other hand could have up to $44 million in cap space in 2012 (without Travis Outlaw). That could be good enough to sign Williams, add another max player at $18 million (hint, hint) plus either keep Brook Lopez or add another player at $8 million ...or do something creative. With the Killer B's record, that has to be considered.

Now, if he opted out and decided he wanted to go to a team over the cap but couldn’t because of that team's cap situation, he could be used in a sign-and-trade but would risk losing over $25 million.  Extend-and-trades are prohibited. If say this season was somehow rescued and he wanted to pull a Carmelo Anthony and be traded at the deadline, he could but the team he was traded to would have to wait six months to sign him. That's a risk.

Also, assuming that the season is rescued and he decided he wanted to extended before the season, it might not be the smart move. Because of the vagaries of the owners' proposal, it would be better for him to wait. So don't be surprised it he does.