After the Brooklyn Nets season ended on Wednesday night, the team headed into an offseason full of intrigue and uncertainty. With upcoming free agents like Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston and the team having fallen well short of everyone's aspirations, nobody really knows what to expect from this offseason. Well, it has begun.
However, trading Williams will be no easy task. Williams still has three years left on his deal and will be paid $63 million over that time span. Had he been playing closer to his capability, things would be easier. In Williams final 55 games with the Utah Jazz before being traded to the Nets in the 2010-11 season, he was averaging 21.3 points per game and 9.7 assists. Since then his production has steadily declined. Williams points and assists per game have dropped for three straight seasons. His points have gone from 21.0 to 18.9 to 14.3 this season. His assists have gone from 8.7 to 7.7 to 6.1 this season. This season, Williams had a player efficiency rating of 17.69, good for fourteenth among point guards. This was the first season his PER did not crack into the 20-range since the 2006-07 season, his second year in the league.
Adding to the complication is Williams age and health. Williams is 29 years old and while he still likely has plenty of basketball left in his NBA career, his best days may be behind him. Throughout his time with the Nets, Williams has dealt with nagging ankle issues. Following their season-ending defeat to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, Williams told reporters that he will meet with doctors and may need surgery on his ankles.
Last but not least, the Nets have not seen the success as a team that Williams once constantly went through with the Jazz. While with the Jazz, he went to the playoffs four straight times from the 2006-07 season to the 2009-10 season, advancing to the second round three times and to the conference finals once. For those four years, the teams lowest win total was 48 games. in Williams first full season with the Nets in 2010-11 (which was shortened to 66 games due to the lockout) the Nets went just 22-44. The team has improved dramatically over the last two seasons and won 49 games last season and 44 games this season. Last season the team was ousted in the first round of the playoffs and this season the team advanced to the second round. Still, given the team's astronomical payroll each of the last two seasons, the Nets have fallen short of the their expectations.
Not all of the Nets failures can be attributed to Williams. The team has dealt with a myriad of injuries, a completely new roster that needed time to adjustment, and this season the team had a rookie head coach in Jason Kidd.
None of that has really made anything easier on Williams. He signed a $98 million dollar contract just a couple of offseason's ago, a contract worthy of anointing someone your franchise player. That type of contract makes a player more vulnerable to scrutiny To add to that, Williams recently had the worst game of his postseason career when he went scoreless against the Heat in Game Two.
It's possible that a team will come calling. Geltzeiler points out that the Houston Rockets had inquired about Williams during the regular season but were shut down by King. The deal revolved around Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin. It's not unlikely that Houston will pursue another big name player as they, too, fell short of their own expectations.
If, or when, offered a deal, King will have to consider all factors. Can Williams still regain his form from when he was with the Jazz? Will his ankles be able to hold up? Does this deal make the Nets a better team now and/or for the future? Is this the best deal the Nets could get?
Maybe Williams does want out of Brooklyn. Maybe King wants to trade Williams. Regardless, the Nets have to look out for what's in the best interest of the team.
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