EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (WFAN/AP) — Deron Williams isn’t going to make a decision on whether to opt out of his contract with the New Jersey Nets until next season.
While saying he had gotten over the shock of being traded to New Jersey and was excited about the future of the Nets’ franchise after talking with coach Avery Johnson and general manager Billy King, Williams refused to hint whether he would opt out of his contract after the 2012 season.
Williams is scheduled to make $17.7 million in 2012-13, but he can walk away from that deal after next season.
That’s important for the Nets, because it would leave them without a superstar for their first year in a new arena in Brooklyn, N.Y. The team is playing this season and next in Newark, N.J.
Williams seemed stunned by the question about his contract, adding he could not guarantee he wouldn’t opt out.
“I can’t really give any assurances or say that I’ll be here when I don’t know what the future holds,” Williams said. “I look forward to the possibility of (staying), it’s definitely a strong possibility. The fact they were willing to give up so much to get me definitely speaks a lot about them, and how they feel about my services.
“Like I said, it all depends on how the next year goes, the collective bargaining agreement and the type of moves we make, and the people we bring into this organization.”
The Nets, who lost out to the rival Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes Monday, gave up a lot to get one of the NBA’s premier point guards.
New Jersey shipped point guard Devin Harris, rookie forward Derrick Favors, the No. 3 pick overall in the draft, two first-round draft picks and $3 million in cash for the six-year veteran who spent his entire career with the Utah Jazz.
However, staying an extra season with the Nets might be worth it.
If Williams does opt out, he might run into problems with a new contract. The current collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union expires after this season, and Williams may not be able to earn as much in the 2012-13 season if maximum salaries are reduced in a new deal.
A two-time All-Star, Williams said he hoped he could help the Nets make a playoff run this season despite being 9½ games out of postseason berth with 25 games left. He also said he would help the team in their free-agent, offseason recruiting.
Johnson said he was going to let Williams have a free hand in the running the offense the rest of the season. He also said that he’d let him play as much as he wants, at least in his first game at San Antonio on Friday night.
King said the stunning deal with the Jazz developed Tuesday, a little more than 12 hours after the Denver Nuggets turned down a Nets’ trade proposal and dealt Anthony to the Knicks.
Jazz general manager and close friend Kevin O’Connor telephoned King Tuesday morning to discuss a deal that didn’t include Williams. King got back to him later and turned down the offer, but proposed a trade that included Williams.
O’Connor thought about the offer, called back and said he was interested but needed to talk to his ownership, and would get back to King on Wednesday morning.
“He called,” King said, “and said ‘We’re in.’ And I said ‘We’re in.'”
The deal was announced early Wednesday afternoon. Williams found out off the television, while getting treatment with his teammates. He added he was admittedly nervous after finding out he was going to a team with 17 wins.
“After talking to Billy and coach Johnson and seeing the direction they want to go in, and vision they have for this organization,” he said, “I’m excited about the possibility of competing for a championship in a couple of years.”
Williams said making the playoffs this season might be a reach, but the team will have a fresh start next season.
One issue that miffed Williams was the implication that he forced Jazz coach Jerry Sloan to resign. Though the 26-year-old didn’t deny that he and Sloan “bumped heads” at times.
“I don’t think, in any way shape or form, that I led him out of Utah or urged him out,” Williams said. “I never talked to management or told them it was ‘him or me’ or any case like that.”
Johnson also was irked by questions about Williams’ past, saying this the trade was a celebration for the Nets.
“This is about disassembling a team that won 12 games (2009-10) and assembling a team that, in the future, can compete for a championship. And Deron is going to be a major part of that,” Johnson said in a scolding tone. “Whatever his relationship with coach Sloan, that will not have any affect on our relationship. I have never had a point guard with Deron’s talent level and skill level. I’ve coached some terrific guys, but with the package he brings to the table, we’re really excited.”
The big question, though, remains: Can the Nets’ keep him after next season?
The third overall pick in 2005 out of Illinois, Williams averaged 17.3 points, 9.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds in the regular season for the Jazz, and 21.1 points, 9.6 assists and 1.2 steals in the postseason.
Will he or won’t he sign? Sound off in the comments below…
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