NEW YORK (AP) - The final chapter of the Deron Williams era in Brooklyn started with a lunch, where Nets general manager Billy King presented the point guard’s agent with an idea he thought would help both sides.
Williams apparently agreed, and he’s almost certainly headed home to Dallas.
The team and the former All-Star came to a buyout agreement after Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov signed off on the terms Friday, and Brooklyn announced the breakup on Saturday. Williams grew up in a Dallas suburb, considered signing with the Mavericks three years ago and according to two people with knowledge of the arrangement he will join them this time once he passes through waivers.
“I don’t want to say Deron wanted to go,” King said Saturday in Las Vegas before the Nets’ summer league game. “I think it was just time. We both tried to make it work. We had some great moments with him.”
Thing is, there weren’t enough.
Williams scored 57 points for the Nets against Charlotte three years ago, had nine 3-pointers against Washington in a first half alone two years ago, and came up with some big playoff moments.
But injuries slowed him, his happiness was often questioned and since the Nets don’t figure to be a title contender this coming season, King reached out to the point guard’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, with a plan to get Brooklyn out of the luxury tax and Williams into a new home.
“Where we are as an organization, we’re not in the same place we were before,” King said. “It was a chance to reshuffle the deck.”
Williams averaged 13 points last season, the lowest since he was a rookie, and has struggled with injuries since signing a five-year, $98.5 million contract in 2012. He was still owed more than $43 million in the final two years. Waiving him could help the Nets, who had the highest payroll in NBA history two years ago, avoid paying the luxury tax in 2015-16.
The Nets acquired the two-time Olympian from Utah just before the trade deadline in 2011 after falling short in their months-long pursuit of Carmelo Anthony. Williams played well in his lone full season in New Jersey, and the Nets re-signed him to a maximum salary contract to make him the face of their franchise as they moved to Brooklyn.
But he battled ankle injuries the last couple of years and acknowledged a loss of confidence during his rocky 2014-15 season. And now the Nets may have to use a point guard-by-committee approach.
“We may take a step back,” King said, “but I think in the long run it’ll be good for us going forward.”
King said just a few days ago he expected Williams and Joe Johnson to be on the roster next season, but getting rid of at least one was a franchise goal to avoid another season paying millions in luxury taxes. King had some trade discussions on Johnson, but dealing Williams was going to be difficult because of his declining production, high salary and dour attitude.
But Williams - who had a pleasant goodbye conversation with King, replete with well-wishes - agreed to give up some of that salary to get his release and should be able to land in Dallas as the replacement to Rajon Rondo in the next few days.
And King made clear, Johnson isn’t going anywhere.
“Joe will be here,” King said.
The buyout was even possible if the Mavericks hadn’t missed out on DeAndre Jordan, King said. The talks began when it was assumed around the league that Dallas was signing Jordan, who committed to the Mavericks before changing his mind and staying with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Now everyone got what they probably needed, and the Nets should have a ton of spending money in what’s expected to be a wild free-agent summer of 2016.
“We have a great chance to create a lot of cap space for next year,” King said. “We were able to retain some young players, we’ve got some continuity and kept some of the core together and added some new athleticism. … We wouldn’t have done this if we didn’t get under the tax.”
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Las Vegas and AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.