|Deron Williams has agreed to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets. (Getty Images)|
All-Star guard Deron Williams, the No. 1 free agent in the Class of 2012, agreed to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets for 5 years and more than $98 million instead of signing with the Dallas Mavericks. The Eye On Basketball team got together to kick around some of the biggest questions regarding Williams' decision.
1. True or False: Deron Williams made the right decision to choose the Brooklyn nets over the Dallas Mavericks?
Royce Young: False. That's said with the caveat that it's his life, his career and if he wanted to sign with the Charlotte Bobcats, more power to him. But in terms of his NBA future, signing in Dallas makes more sense. I'm a big believer in ownership and management and you're not going to find a much better situation than what the Mavs feature. Mark Cuban is a committed owner and that organization has a constant vision of winning. Not to say the Nets are hapless, but they don't exactly have a sterling track record either.
If Williams had signed in Dallas, he would've been paired with Dirk, plus the option to add more in free agency next summer. That could've turned into a really viable long-term solution. With the Nets, it's a nice team built around Williams, Gerald Wallace, Joe Johnson and probably Brook Lopez, but is that really championship worthy?
Matt Moore: False. This is factoring the element that it's not MY $25 million I'd be giving up. But Williams made a lot of talk about how this decision was about winning a championship. Is Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, and Brook Lopez a good core? Absolutely. Is it a playoff team? Surely. But is it a title contender? Not even close, really.
There's talk about Dallas' age, but there's still Dirk Nowitzki who may not slow down for years considering his conditioning and how his game is played. There's the simple fact that overall, Mark Cuban has consistently put together 50-win teams in a tough Western Conference, puts not just the most money towards resources, but wisely invests in the right ones, and has gotten a team to the Finals twice in the past six years. This Nets regime? Prokhorov missed out on LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Amar'e, and Carmelo Anthony despite direct personal appeals, and Billy King has never had a reputation as a title builder. It's not that the Nets are bad. It's that the Mavericks are better.
In reality, if Williams wanted to win a title, he would have considered Indiana. But that's not what this was about. It was about money, like it always is, and good for Williams for believing in a team that mortgaged nearly everything to get him. Just don't expect any of those titles you talked about, Deron. Good, not great, is what you've signed on for.
Unless they get Dwight, of course.
Ben Golliver: I'll say true. Look, you can't overlook the money factor: the extra year and the $20+ million that goes with it isn't a small factor, especially for a player in his prime earning years. Also: Brooklyn gave him virtually everything he asked for and more. He wanted to play for a winner; they overpaid to surround him with two All-Stars. He didn't want to go through a rebuilding effort; his best teammates are currently in their prime. He wanted every last dollar available to him; he got it without a second thought. He wanted an organization committed to playoff success; he's playing for an owner with all the wealth in the world. He may or may not have wanted a big market; he now gets Brooklyn after what was surely a painful year and change playing in front of an often empty house in New Jersey.
By virtue of all the maneuverings that were made just to keep him, this is his show for the foreseeable future. He never would have had that power in Dallas.
2. As currently constructed (without Dwight Howard), where do you rank the Nets in the East?
Ben Golliver: Miami is in a tier by itself. Chicago (with a rehabbing Derrick Rose), Boston and Indiana are in the second tier. I think the Nets slot in with the Knicks in the third tier, so call that fifth or sixth if you like. All that is assuming the Pacers match on restricted free agent center Roy Hibbert and Dwight Howard doesn't magically form a super-team somewhere. The Nets will likely need a second season to build true chemistry among their stars and assemble a full rotation around their pieces. They should have a two or three year window, beginning in 2013-14, to potentially contend for a top-2 spot in the East.
Matt Moore: I'd put them fifth right now. Miami obviously at the top, then Chicago behind. Then you have to think that if the Pacers match, they'll have a more complete team and have the resources to hang with the Nets and outperform them with depth and total firepower. And at least for the next year, Boston has to be considered a better team. But they look to be better than the Knicks, and maybe that's enough of a win in and of itself.
But the gap between Miami and the Nets is much wider than the gap between the Nets and the Knicks.
Royce Young: Probably a solid fourth. That would depend on Roy Hibbert's future to a degree, but I think there's still an obvious separation at the top with Chicago and Miami, with the Pacers, Knicks, 76ers, Nets and Magic (tentatively) filling in the middle of the pack. The Nets have a nice team to kick Brooklyn off with, but not at all one that can compete with the Heat or Bulls, assuming Derrick Rose gets healthy.
3. Is Brooklyn officially a hot free agent destination down the line (if they can somehow create cap space)?
Matt Moore: I definitely think it'll help. You have to consider a solid all-around team with that kind of marketing power. It's now "cool" to be a Brooklyn Net. That's been a huge advantage for both New York and Los Angeles over the years, and the Nets could build on that. They're the new New York team, the hip team with the All-Star core. And that's going to be attractive to free agents, even if their cap structure will keep them from significant additions.
Ben Golliver: Newsflash: they won't be able to create cap space. Their books are stacked. I think they can be a major player in the mid-level or mini mid-level market, though, attracting second or third tier veterans who want a solid pay day, a great location and a playoff-bound team. I don't see them being able to move Wallace or Johnson for at least a few years so anything past that level of success in free agency is going to be difficult. But they've already accomplished a lot. This team was downright pathetic for the last several years. They're significantly better than pathetic today.
Royce Young: It has to be. It's got the hook of Jay-Z, is in New York and kind of has that new appeal to it. The black and white logo, the new Barclays Center, the Brooklyn location. It's pretty cool, it seems. Plus, when you have a deep pocketed owner like Prokhorov, there's always an appeal there. He's going to spend and attempt to maintain a winner. It's a big market team with a lot of new glitz and glamour to it.