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Ian Eagle: Nets may "decide to cut bait and move on without Deron Williams"

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In an extraordinary and telling interview with WFAN's Evan Roberts Monday, Ian Eagle said that of the team's two highest paid players, the one likely to be back was Joe Johnson and not Deron Williams.  The team, he believes, will try to trade him, but if that doesn't work, "just decide they've got to cut bait and move on without him."

Roberts did not press Eagle on what that meant, nor did Eagle volunteer any explanation. It was part of a subtle but scathing critique of Williams, extraordinary for a team announcer talking about a franchise player.

"As they look at their team in regards to Deron Williams, I'm not convinced that moving forward that Deron can be a part of this. Now the finances play a big role in all of that. The issue is going to be whether they try to do everything in their power to trade him or at some point just decide they've got to cut bait and move on without him.  Those are the decisions that will have to made down the road by Billy King and ownership."

Specifically, Eagle criticized Williams leadership and "behind the scenes" manner, again without details. He did question whether the Nets "could ever truly be a winner" with Williams.

"It wasn't just what he does on the basketball court. It's what you do behind the scenes, the kind of leadership qualities you bring. When you pay someone that kind of money, it isn't just what he does at 7:30 at night, it's all encompassing and I think the concern could be based on a lot of what's happening behind the scenes and whether they could ever truly be a winner."

The conversation began with Roberts asking Eagle what he thought about the return of Brooklyn's backcourt.

"My gut feeling will be that one of them will be on the Nets. Not both. I just sense that the one that will be on the Nets is the one that's going into the final year of his deal. and that would be Joe Johnson."

When Roberts, surprised, asked, "Deron's gone and Joe's here?" Eagle responded that the team dynamic is changing that the team, defined by Williams and Johnson is now under new management, led by Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young. He surprisingly included Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in the new mix...

"I think it's a fluid situation, I think they would jump on [trading] either one. They're building their team around Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young ... and Rondae Hollis Jefferson. To me,  To me, that's what's happening. [Bojan]  Bogdanovic also part of the core group now.  I know his name was mentioned in trade rumors. I think the Nets were curious to see what the market value was but they were never quite serious about trading Bogdanovic."

In another part of the interview, Eagle said that the Nets are so high on RHJ's defense that the rookie could start for the team and compared him to Draymond Green.

Here's the transcript of the crucial parts of the interview related to Williams...

On the relative value of Johnson and Williams...

"Ultimately, you know Deron and Joe are not long for this team, whether it's till the end of their respective contracts or if its before that.  I agree with you that Joe is the more tradeable commodity, but they look at their team, there's a role for Joe Johnson on this team. As they look at their team in regards to Deron Williams, I'm not convinced that moving forward that Deron can be a part of this. Now the finances play a big role in all of that. The issue is going to be whether they try to do everything in their power to trade him or at some point just decide they've got to cut bait and move on without him.  Those are the decisions that will have to made down the road by Billy King and ownership."

On whether there would be a loss of talent at point guard...

"From a basketball side, there's a very good chance that you're going to be on the wrong side of the talent comparison, but as we know and we've learned, it takes more than just that to win in this league. Has to be a bunch of guys who want to be a part of it that believe they are all working towards one goal.  The Golden State Warriors, Mark Jackson did an excellent job convincing those guys they could be winners. And Steve Kerr took it to the next level. and was able to get them to a championship level. That's not just based on talent alone. It's based on everything clicking."

On the failings of team chemistry...

"With this Nets team, all you had to do is watch last year's team It didn't click. There was something missing. There was a part missing. And unfortunately, Deron getting paid all that money and the investment that was made in him, it wasn't just what he does on the basketball court.  It's what you do behind the scenes, the kind of leadership qualities you bring. When you pay someone that kind of money, it isn't just what he does at 7:30 at night, it's all encompassing and I think the concern could be based on a lot of what's happening behind the scenes and whether they could ever truly be a winner "

On the end result...

"Now, the philosophy may be that his talent is just too great to make that kind of decision but if you're asking me my gut feeling, my gut feeling is there could be changes down the road at that particular spot."