Yes, it is so far in the future that it really should not be a topic of daily discussion -- and Deron Williams will be the first to tell you it shouldn't be. But living in the New Jersey-New York fishbowl, the subject of Williams' future is going to come up a lot.
Especially when the coach says there is "no doubt" in his mind that Williams will stay.
Coach Avery Johnson on an ESPN radio show in New York said he was sure that Williams would want to stay in New Jersey. Williams can opt out of the final year of his contract after next season. One element strongly in the Nets' favor is that Williams is due $17.7 million for 2012-13. A new collective bargaining agreement may make that amount far too lucrative to pass up for a free agent gamble. That, coupled with the positive response to New Jersey so far -- and the Nets organization has bent over backward to appease Williams, making him the face of the franchise -- may have contributed to Johnson's confidence.
"What am I supposed to say, that I'm leery?" Johnson said. "All signs that I've seen and heard is that as we move forward, he'll be in a Nets uniform. Down the road if that changes, I'm not going to be the first person in the history of America or professional sports that have had no doubt and it didn't work."
As for Williams, the scenario is too far removed to be taken seriously at this point. But he does admit the Nets have rolled out the welcome mat.
"I think I've got to see the collective bargaining agreement first. I think I have to opt out a year from now before I can even sign an extension, so there's no reason to even talk about it. I have two years left on my contract, right?" Williams said. "Now, I can't sign an extension until I opt out. I can't opt out until next year in July, so why are we talking about it right now? ... It's a long ways away.
"I'm enjoying my time here. Everyone in this organization has made me feel so comfortable, and the transition's been as easy as possible," Williams said. "It's not easy for me because I don't have my family here which I'm used to, but otherwise everything's been great."
Including the Nets' play. They had a five-game winning streak snapped against the Bulls on Thursday, and they'll look to recover Friday at Milwaukee. The Bucks are one of four teams the Nets would need to pass to complete an unlikely surge for a playoff bid.
BULLS 84, NETS 73: The Nets were limited to their lowest point total of the season by the Bulls, who took over the East's top spot, one-half game ahead of Boston. New Jersey dropped a full six games behind the eighth and final playoff slot. The Bulls, who have the top-rated field-goal defense, limited the Nets to just .349 shooting. Brook Lopez scored 22 points in the loss.
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