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Bottom Line: Players Want Power

It's all about power, or if you want, influence. Deron Williams has it. Dwight Howard wants it. And both feel they can get it with the Nets. It may or may not be the aftertaste of a bitter lockout, but in comments Sunday, Williams characterized David Stern as a "bully" for nixing the Chris Paul trade and Howard criticized Otis Smith for not listening to him on personnel matters.

The influence is going to manifest itself in a number of ways. There's more news this morning, for example, that the Nets are interested in Gilbert Arenas. Williams has reportedly inquired about him. The Magic dumped him against Howard's wishes

And while Smith has said he'll check with the NBA's 29 other teams about a trade, Howard is making it plain that he won't sign an extension with anyone other than his No. 1 or No. 1A choices, the Nets and Lakers. That will limit teams' interest in sending valued assets Orlando's way.